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Cablegate: Update On Iraqis in Jordan - August 22

VZCZCXRO7232
PP RUEHBC RUEHDA RUEHDE RUEHIHL RUEHKUK
DE RUEHAM #3545/01 2341455
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 221455Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY AMMAN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0086
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 AMMAN 003545

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

FOR PRM AND NEA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREF PHUM SOCI EAID IZ JO
SUBJECT: UPDATE ON IRAQIS IN JORDAN - AUGUST 22

REF: AMMAN 3369 AND PREVIOUS

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Foreign Minster Khatib confirmed that the
Governments of Iraq and Jordan agreed in principle to
implement a process for issuing visas to Iraqis seeking to
enter Jordan. Jordanian schools began on August 19, though
with far fewer Iraqis then expected. USAID, UNICEF, UNHCR
and NGOs are collaborating with the Ministry of Education and
consulting focus groups of Iraqis to ascertain why. They
will use their results to develop continued information
campaigns that will encourage Iraqi schoolchildren to enroll
before registration closes on September 15. END SUMMARY

Visas to Jordan
---------------

2. (SBU) Foreign Minister Khatib confirmed to the Ambassador
on August 20 that the Governments of Jordan and Iraq agreed
to an arrangement during Iraqi National Security Advisor
Muwaffaq al-Rubaie's visit to Amman whereby the GOI will
submit visa applications for processing in Amman, allowing
Iraqi travelers to know with certainty before departing Iraq
that they can enter Jordan. FM Khatib indicated that details
of the process remain to be worked out.

3. (U) On August 15, Al Arab Al Yawm reported that the
Jordanian Foreign Minister directed the formation of a
technical team to explore the feasibility of issuing entry
visas in Baghdad. News reports also stated that the Iraqi
Foreign Ministry would initially receive visa requests and
would coordinate with Jordanian security authorities to
determine entry in Jordan.

Schools open, but with fewer Iraqis enrolled than expected
--------------------------------------------- ------------

4. (SBU) A variety of sources - the Ministry of Education
(MoE), UNICEF, UNHCR, and NGOs who work with Iraqis in Jordan
- have confirmed that the number of Iraqis currently
attending Jordanian public schools is significantly below the
50,000 anticipated by the GOJ. MoE Director of Schools
reported to Emboff that the Ministry does not yet have
specific enrollment figures for Iraqis, but expects to
receive lists from school principals within two weeks. In a
published interview on August 19, Minister of Education
Touqan said that 40,000 Iraqis would enroll during the coming
academic year, notably the first time a ministry official
used a figure below 50,000. An August 15 interview with
Iraqi Embassy officials in Amman claimed that the Iraqi
Embassy's cultural office had notarized 6,000 educational
records for Iraqis in Jordan.

5. (SBU) Emboffs, UNICEF officials, and Save the Children met
with focus groups of Iraqis the week of August 19 to
understand displaced Iraqi educational concerns and to inform
the continued public information campaign being managed by
UNICEF, NGOs and the Ministry of Education. Several themes
emerged:

--Despite assurances from the MoE that all schools, even
those that are full, would record the names of children
wishing to register, it is not happening in practice. Iraqis
are being told by some local school officials that no space
is available.
--Some Iraqi families lack funds to pay school fees (20
JD/semester for primary school; 30JD/semester for secondary
school) or textbooks (35 JD). Iraqi families remain largely
unaware of the UN offer to pay fees on their behalf.
--Some Iraqi children have been out of formal schooling for a
year or more and believe they are no longer eligible for
school, are no longer interested in school, or are working
(often illegally) to support their families.

6. (SBU) Save the Children and Mercy Corps are collecting
names of schools that are not registering children and will
pass these lists to the MoE through the Ministry of Planning.

7. (SBU) Emboff met with the MoE steering committee on
August 16, where the Ministry of Education and the Ministry
of Planning accepted a list of 30 schools identified by
USAID, UN and NGO partners in East Amman as suitable for
double-shifting. NOTE: although Iraqis may attend any school
with available space, many Jordanian schools are already
overcrowded and Iraqis living in Amman are concentrated in
neighborhoods with overcrowded schools. To provide sufficient
space, the GoJ agreed to double-shift schools in key areas
(reftel). END NOTE. The MoE agreed to send a letter to all
school directorates and the principals of the schools
selected for double-shifting on August 20 to clarify
registration rules and processes:

AMMAN 00003545 002 OF 002

--Iraqi children should bring educational documents within
six weeks of the start of school. Those lacking
documentation will be tested and sorted into classes
commensurate with their educational level.
--Schools should register all Iraqi children, regardless of
space, and the MoE will determine the actual distribution
within the coming weeks.
--Schools should register Iraqi children regardless of their
ability to pay registration and textbook fees. Following
registration, the MoE will transmit a list of Iraqis to UNHCR
and UNICEF, which will reimburse the GOJ for their
educational costs.

Registration
------------

8. (SBU) UNHCR reported to poloff that as of August 16 it
had registered 43,168 individuals in Jordan - referring 3,114
to the United States Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) for
resettlement consideration.

Visit Amman's Classified Web Site at
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/nea/amman/
Hale

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