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Cablegate: Unhcr Says Gvn Troubled by Ongoing Montagnard Emigration To

VZCZCXRO3387
RR RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHNH
DE RUEHHI #0203/01 0520833
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 210833Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY HANOI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7218
INFO RUEHHM/AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH 4331
RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 1233

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HANOI 000203

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/MLS AND PRM, BANGKOK FOR REFUGEE COORDINATOR, GENEVA
FOR RMA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM PREF KIRF CB VM

SUBJECT: UNHCR SAYS GVN TROUBLED BY ONGOING MONTAGNARD EMIGRATION TO
CAMBODIA, QUESTIONING UNHCR'S ROLE

REFS: Hanoi 0100

HANOI 00000203 001.2 OF 002


1. (SBU) Summary: UNHCR Deputy Regional Representative Giuseppe de
Vincentis and Vietnam Officer-in-Charge Vu Anh Son met with the
Ambassador on February 19 to discuss the need for a timely solution
to the growing UNHCR Montagnard camp population in Cambodia. De
Vincentis said UNHCR was not in a position to open up a fourth camp
in Cambodia to accommodate the increasing numbers, and the
Vietnamese individuals eligible for the Visas 93 program should
apply in Vietnam, rather than cross the border into Cambodia. De
Vincentis also said that GVN officials told him they were becoming
nervous with the increasing number of Montagnard emigres and
questioned the benefits of the GVN - RGC - UNHCR Tripartite MOU, now
entering its fourth year. The Ambassador and de Vincentis agreed
that, as a first step, a targeted information campaign was needed to
help remedy the current situation. De Vincentis noted that USDHS
was currently helping to clear a 200-person backlog of cases
warranting USG final review. End Summary.

2. (SBU) In a February 19 Hanoi meeting, UNHCR Deputy Regional
Representative Giuseppe de Vincentis briefed the Ambassador on the
situation in the three UNHCR-run Montagnard "sites" (aka camps) in
Phnom Penh and his earlier meeting with GVN officials. UNHCR is
concerned that its three sites in Cambodia are now at maximum
capacity, with 550 Montagnard refugee seekers at different stages of
processing. Although most are denied refugee status by UNHCR, a
steady stream of Montagnard arrivals to Cambodia continues.
According to UNHCR Cambodia reports, there were 51 Montagnard
arrivals in January 2008, and by February 5, there were already 12
for the month of February, an increase from 2007 monthly averages.
De Vincentis explicitly told the Ambassador that UNHCR would not
open a fourth site in Cambodia. (Note: In a meeting later the same
day with HCMC CG, DPO, and refugee officer, de Vincentis indicated
that UNHCR had considered opening a fourth site, but quickly
rejected the idea because of budget constraints and the potential
pull factor. End note.)

3. (SBU) The GVN Ministry of Foreign Affairs has become
uncomfortable with the growing number of Montagnard border crossers,
as the Tri-Partite MOU (GVN-RGC-UNHCR) enters its fourth year. The
MOU was meant to eventually reduce border crossing, but the
Vietnamese say they see no end in sight. According to de Vincentis,
GVN officials diplomatically suggested to him that UNHCR had become
a magnet, after the GVN allowed UNHCR full access to the Central
Highlands. They suggested to de Vincentis that the pre-MOU days may
have been better, as UNHCR was now "producing refugees." The GVN
maintains that it has worked hard to develop the Central Highlands
region and provide more opportunities for its ethnic minority
inhabitants.

4. (SBU) At the camps in Cambodia, de Vincentis said that USDHS will
soon interview the 200-person "UNHCR screened out" (denied refugee
status by UNHCR) case backlog, dating to before the May 1, 2007
policy. This should help some, de Vincentis said, but he remains
concerned about the large number of derivative
status/Visas-93-eligible cases. Although Montagnards may have their
Visas-93 cases processed at our Humanitarian Resettlement Section
(HRS) in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), many are still making the choice
to cross the border into Cambodia instead. De Vincentis suggested
to the Ambassador that we need to get such individuals to apply in
Vietnam rather than cross the border.

5. (SBU) De Vincentis said there appear to be many factors leading
individuals to cross the border. These include difficulty in
obtaining documentation required for the Visas-93 application in
Vietnam, associated documentation fees and the cost for travel to
HCMC, sponsors in the United States not executing the necessary
documentation, and possible encouragement by Montagnard activists in
the United States. Interviews of border crossers suggest that the
Montagnard Foundation Incorporated of South Carolina may be
encouraging Montagnards to go to UNHCR in Cambodia rather than apply
under Visas-93 in Vietnam.

6. (SBU) De Vincentis and the Ambassador discussed a targeted
information campaign in the Central Highlands to make the Visas-93
program work better in Vietnam. De Vincentis noted that the vast
majority of arrivals were coming from three districts in Gia Lai
Province and two districts in Dak Lak Province of the Central
Highlands. The Ambassador agreed with De Vincentis that a Visas-93
information campaign would be worthwhile and said he would discuss
it with the HCMC HRS, working with State's PRM Bureau.

7. HCMC's HRS is already working on providing training to local
civil registrar and passport office officials in the Central
Highlands about U.S. resettlement requirements to include

HANOI 00000203 002.2 OF 002


information on who is eligible for Visas-93 and what documents the
U.S. needs for resettlement processing. HRS has informally discussed
the idea with MPS Department of Immigration and Emigration officials
in HCMC as well as some local officials in the Central Highlands.
PRM has provided HRS relevant English-language training materials
that need to be translated into Vietnamese.

8. (U) This cable was coordinated with Consulate General Ho Chi Minh
City.

MICHALAK

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