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Cablegate: Unhcr and Ngos Outline Admissions and Assistance

VZCZCXRO7286
PP RUEHBC RUEHDA RUEHDE RUEHIHL RUEHKUK
DE RUEHAM #4453/01 3081013
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 041013Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY AMMAN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0804
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEAHLC/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA PRIORITY 0623

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 AMMAN 004453

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

FOR NEA AND PRM

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREF PGOV SOCI EAID IZ JO
SUBJECT: UNHCR AND NGOS OUTLINE ADMISSIONS AND ASSISTANCE
PLANS AND CHALLENGES TO FOLEY DELEGATION

REF: A. AMMAN 4376
B. AMMAN 3907

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: During a two-day visit to Amman, Senior
Coordinator for Iraqi Refugee Issues Ambassador James Foley,
accompanied by DHS Senior Advisor for Iraqi Refugees Lori
Scialabba, discussed admission and assistance priorities with
senior United Nations refugee officials, NGOs, and Jordanian
General Intelligence Director Mohamed Dahabi (ref A). UNHCR
emphasized that it can continue to produce referrals to the
U.S. provided we can process them, and articulated its needs
to assist vulnerable Iraqis with food, relief items and cash
assistance in 2008. NGOs briefed on their operations and
raised their concerns particularly over the future
sustainability of Iraqi refugees in Jordan. END SUMMARY.

UNHCR RAISES NUMBERS AND SUPPORT
--------------------------------

2. (U) On October 28, Foley and Scialabba met with a
delegation of UN officials led by Radhouane Noucier, UNHCR's
Director for North Africa and the Middle East, Imran Riza,
UNHCR Jordan representative, and Janvier de Riedmatten, UNHCR
Iraq representative. Noucier prefaced the meeting by noting
that Iraqi refugees are the largest urban caseload in UNHCR
history. Noucier estimated the number of Iraqi refugees as
follows:

-Syria: 1.2 million
-Jordan: 400,000 - 500,000
-The Gulf: 200,000
-Lebanon: 20,000
-Egypt: 20,000

Noucier estimated that vulnerable cases (based on criteria
such as health, female-headed households, orphans, etc.)
represent 25 percent of the population which, he cautioned,
has limited means of sustaining itself. Thus, despite
UNHCR's providing food, health, education and cash assistance
(primarily to offset the cost of rent), resources of the
Iraqi population continue to dwindle.

3. (SBU) De Reidmatten estimated that until July there were
50,000-60,000 new displacements per month in Iraq, though
that figure appears to have decreased and, according to the
Iraqi Ministry of Displacement and Migration, up to 3,000
families have returned to their homes in Baghdad. UNHCR Iraq
assistance continues to focus primarily on communities
hosting concentrations of IDPs that are often difficult to
identify and reach. He noted that 30 percent of the IDPs are
in settlements of some sort and can thus be more easily
served, but that the other 70 percent, an urban caseload
distributed throughout towns and cities, are much harder to
reach. He said there is now a noticeable concentration of
IDPs in Babil Governorate. He said he thought MODM
performance is improving, noting that UNHCR has suggested to
MODM that it second one or two officers to the Ministry to
help with information management, planning and capacity
building.

4. (SBU) Noucier estimated that UNHCR will request at least
USD 126 million for its 2008 appeal. He was pleased that the
2007 general appeal was almost entirely funded, but noted the
outstanding health and educational appeals were less
supported. UNHCR requested that Foley consider lifting the
usual USG cap of 25-30 percent of funding UNHCR appeals,
remarking that the UN refugee agency would face trouble in
2008 if donors other than the U.S., Japan and Denmark did not
step forward. Noucier encouraged Foley to pressure other
potential European and Gulf donors to contribute.

5. (SBU) Noucier claimed that UNHCR will have 20,000
submissions region-wide for resettlement by the end of 2007,
and asked Ambassador Foley to clarify U.S. resettlement goals
through 2008. Foley replied that the USG has set a goal of
12,000 for 2008, but that our capacity to process relies on
external factors such as our ability to operate and conduct
interviews in Syria. Foley strongly urged UNHCR to boost
referrals to USRAP in Jordan.

6. (SBU) As the meeting closed, Ambassador Foley raised
recently-publicized reports of alleged discrimination by
UNHCR staff against Iraqi Christians. UNHCR rebuffed the
claims' validity, and reiterated its commitment to following
up all claims of mistreatment. Noucier said that 22 percent
of those registered to date with UNHCR in Jordan - and 36
percent of those resettled - have been Christian. UNHCR
expressed a concern that creating a special track for

AMMAN 00004453 002 OF 002


Christians would lead to additional criticisms by other
religious minorities, heightened tensions in the neighboring
countries, and could have the unintended consequence of
"emptying" Iraq of its historic religious minorities.

NGOs IDENTIFY ONGOING CHALLENGES
--------------------------------

7. (SBU) On October 29, Foley attended an informal lunch
hosted by Save the Children with representatives of NGOs
supporting displaced Iraqis. Save the Children stressed that
Jordan is a developing country with its own demographic and
development challenges, and its absorption of Iraqis must be
understood in that context. NGOs offered their respective
theories on why Iraqi enrollment in Jordanian schools
(generally estimated to be 20,000-25,000) was less than hoped
(ref B), most of them having to do with fear and economic
considerations.

8. (SBU) ICMC, Mercy Corps and CARE representatives described
ongoing tensions between Iraqis and Jordanians mostly of
Palestinian origin. According to these NGOs, young Iraqis
are angry about their situation and inability to work to
support themselves, while Jordanians of Palestinian origin
are resentful of the attention and resources devoted to the
Iraqis. They noted the common scapegoating of Iraqis for the
increasing costs of food, fuel and other basic necessities,
while many Jordanians have not seen an increase in their
standard of living. All NGOs stressed that, in developing
programs to help displaced Iraqis, they plan for 25-50
percent of those they serve to be lower-income Jordanians.
They speculated that as the resources and savings of Iraqis
decline, the burden on Jordan will grow, the situation for
Iraqis will worsen, and the GOJ will be forced to consider
(unspecified) "alternate solutions".

9. (U) Several NGO representatives spoke about the procedures
and challenges they have faced in registering their
activities and coordinating with the Government of Jordan.
Care's representative explained that the Ministry of Planning
has established an ad-hoc committee composed of the Ministry
of Interior, the Ministry of Education and the General
Intelligence Directorate to consider all requests by NGOs
that are not operating under the auspices of UN agencies.
ANERA, a PRM-funded implementer for an informal education and
psychosocial support program, described its continued and
unsuccessful effort to solicit approval from this committee,
and in particular the Ministry of Education representative,
because of GOJ fears that its programming will create a
parallel education system. At the same time, Qwestscope, a
non-formal educational provider, expressed optimism that its
educational courses would soon be expanded to include Iraqis
with GOJ blessing. In unanimity, NGOs stated their opinion
that the GOJ wou
ld never approve vocational training for Iraqis for fear that
it would lead additional Iraqis to work illegally.

10. (SBU) Overall, Ambassador Foley and his delegation were
struck by the prospect - emphasized by several of the NGOs -
of the inevitable impoverishment of those Iraqis in Jordan
(probably the majority) whose resources are being depleted
and who have few means to replenish them, and the increased
tensions this will cause within Jordan.

11. (U) Ambassador Foley has cleared this cable.
Hale

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