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Cablegate: Lebanon: Iraqi Refugees Receive Badly Needed Usg

VZCZCXRO5116
PP RUEHBC RUEHDA RUEHDE RUEHIHL RUEHKUK RUEHROV
DE RUEHLB #0424/01 0861220
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 261220Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY BEIRUT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1362
INFO RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHGB/AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD PRIORITY 0073
RHEHNSC/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC PRIORITY
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 2068
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO PRIORITY 2336
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS PRIORITY
RHMFISS/USCENTCOM SPECIAL HANDLING MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BEIRUT 000424

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

NSC FOR ABRAMS/SINGH/GAVITO
DEPT PASS TO EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID PGOV PHUM PREF PREL SMIG LE IZ
SUBJECT: LEBANON: IRAQI REFUGEES RECEIVE BADLY NEEDED USG
FUNDED ASSISTANCE


SUMMARY
-------

1. (SBU) The topic of USG assistance to the Iraqi refugee
community arose in Poloff's March 18 meeting with Catholic
Relief Service's (CRS) Country Director Melinda Burell.
Burell said CRS, in conjunction with its local partner
Caritas Lebanon, was working with Iraqi refugees by providing
medical, humanitarian, and legal services. Burell also
provided information on recent trends within the Iraqi
refugee community as well as some of CSR's future projects in
Lebanon. End Summary.

CRS HELPS IRAQI REFUGEES
IN LEBANON
------------------------

2. (SBU) In a March 18 meeting with Poloff, CRS Country
Director Melinda Burell described CRS's achievements with the
$750,000 grant from the State Department's Bureau of
Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM). Burell said CRS,
by working in conjunction with its local partner Caritas
Lebanon, has helped 1,500 Iraqi children with their
educational needs by purchasing their books, enrolling them
in schools, and even paying from some to go to private
schools if the public ones are sub-standard. CRS has also
enrolled 200 to 300 young Iraqis in vocational training
programs.

3. (SBU) CRS assisted 750 Iraqi refugees by providing them
medical care, in addition to providing over 2,000 Iraqi
families with humanitarian assistance by giving them family
food packages and coupons for grocery stores, according to
Burell. Caritas provides counseling to Iraqi refugees and
assists with legal services to help undocumented migrants
obtain legal status by working with Lebanon's immigration
agency, Securite General, to obtain a general amnesty for all
illegal Iraqi refugees residing in Lebanon.

MIGRANTS' CENTER
KEY TO SUCCESS
----------------

4. (SBU) CRS has been able to provide the majority of these
services to the Iraqi refugee community through Caritas's
owned and operated Migrants' Center. Most of the Iraqi
refugees live integrated witin the Lebanese community, but
they come to Carias' Migrants' Center for services and
assistance Burell said Caritas was a great partner and has
even used some of its own funding to assist some Iraqis with
their legal cases.

5. (SBU) The Migrant's Center is composed mostly of
refugees, migrants, and some trafficking victims. The
population living at the center and using the center's
services is mostly Sudanese, Philippine, Ethiopian, and some
Palestinians. However, now Iraqi refugees are on the verge
of becoming the largest community benefiting from the center
and its services, according to Burell. CRS and Caritas
officials also visit Iraqi families in their homes, as well.

TRENDS WITHIN THE
IRAQI REFUGEE COMMUNITY
-----------------------

6. (SBU) Burell said Iraqi Christians were the original
community of Iraqi refugees immigrating to Lebanon, but now
recent arrivals are Shias and Sunnis. Most Iraqi refugees
reside in areas based on the confessional make up of the
Lebanese village or city, according to Burell. Many Iraqis
do not want to return to Iraq, Burell added.

7. (SBU) Burell noted that, in the beginning more affluent
Iraqi refugees were coming to Lebanon, but now poorer Iraqi
families are also making the journey. Burell mentioned that
many Iraqi children have problems assimilating in local
Lebanese schools. Burell added that many Iraqi refugees are
experiencing employment challenges and that Caritas has had
to increase its counseling services to help deal with the
trauma many experienced before arriving to Lebanon.

BEIRUT 00000424 002 OF 002

8. (SBU) However, Burell notes that the numbers of arrivals
per day have decreased from the rate of about 100 per day in
2003, to around 12 to 15 a day, which was what the rate was
before Operation Iraqi Freedom began in 2003. Deportations
are also down, Burell noted.

POSSIBLE BACKLASH
FROM LEBANESE COMMUNITY
-----------------------

9. (SBU) According to Burell, there is fear that there could
be a backlash from the Lebanese population towards the Iraqi
refugee community, though it has yet to happen. Burell said
its current grant does not provide assistance to host
communities, but noted that PRM recently sent out a Request
for Applications (RFA) for programs directed towards the
Iraqi refugee community. Burell proposes to use ten percent
of this potential $750,000 grant towards programs for the
Lebanese communities, in order to reduce any potential
tension between the local Lebanese populace and the newly
arrived Iraqi refugees.

OTHER ASSISTANCE
TO IRAQI REFUGEES
-----------------

10. (SBU) In addition to the this grant, Burell said PRM
provided a one-year $1.1 million grant to International
Medical Corporation (IMC) in December 2007, to provide
medical services, mostly psychological therapy, to Iraqi
refugees in Lebanon. In addition, as part of a $1,000,000
grant from PRM, the International Organization for Migration
(IOM) allocated $100,000 to educate and train Lebanese
immigration and security officials about deterring the
potential trafficking of Iraqi refugees in Lebanon.

COMMENT
-------

11. (SBU) In our view, CRS and Caritas Lebanon have been good
partners on assisting the Iraqi refugee community in Lebanon.
We favor their proposed approach of directing some
assistance to head off resentment in the Lebanese communities
where the Iraqi refugees live. End Comment.
SISON

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