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Cablegate: Costa Rica: Proposals for 2008 Ambassador's Fund For

VZCZCXYZ0001
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSJ #0479 1572039
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 052039Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY SAN JOSE
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9813

UNCLAS SAN JOSE 000479

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR WHA/CEN RBEAL AND PRM/ECA KPONGONIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREF PREL ELAB EAID CS
SUBJECT: COSTA RICA: PROPOSALS FOR 2008 AMBASSADOR'S FUND FOR
REFUGEES

REF: STATE 6779

1. Please find below Embassy San Jose's submission two projects for
the 2008 Ambassador's Fund for Refugees. Post provided full texts of
the proposals to Kate Pongonis, PRM/ECA, in April.

2. PROJECT 1 DESCRIPTION: USD 14,992 to local NGO "International
Advisors and Consultants Association" (ACAI) to establish a computer
training lab for refugees which will improve the participants'
preparation for effective labor insertion. The center will be
located at the Desamparados "House of Rights," which provides legal
and development services to the local refugee population. According
to UNHCR statistics and the National Direction of Migration, at the
end of the year 2007, Costa Rica had 17,710 asylum applicants plus
UNHCR "people of interest" who could benefit from this training. A
majority of them live in the Desamparados neighborhood.

Their main challenge in successfully integrating in the community is
job placement. Many of the refugees lack appropriate skills for the
Costa Rican job market, which extends their dependence on
governmental aid programs and exacerbates their resettlement
challenges. ACAI's computer training seeks to enhance their skills
and thereby improve their opportunities for employment. ACAI will
use the Ambassadors Fund grant to purchase:

-- 6 computers
-- network printer
-- wireless installation
-- computer licenses
-- instructor time at $4 per hour
-- miscellaneous supplies such as paper, ink, photocopies
-- computer chairs and tables

3. PROJECT 2 DESCRIPTION: USD 5000 to establish a micro-credit
program to help refugees purchase basic supplies to start small
enterprises. This is intended primarily for graduates of ACAI's
"Rapid Impact" training program, but others could apply for the
loans if they already have business skills. The Rapid Impact program
teaches vocational skills such as baking and pastry making,
cosmetology (including make-up artistry and manicures/pedicures),
jewelry making, flower arranging, etc. The program helps students
develop basic work skills while they are receiving other, more
extensive job training or awaiting an Immigration decision on their
status.

The micro-credit program is designed to provide small loans of no
more than USD 200, at 10% interest, to help these refugees purchase
basic supplies needed to start their own businesses (i.e.
manicure/pedicure equipment). The project includes an evaluation of
each applicant's abilities, business proposal, and start-up costs
required. ACAI plans to reach 30 refugees with the Ambassadors Fund
grant.

4. JUSTIFICATION FOR THIS REQUEST: Project 1 is designed to be
part of the comprehensive strategy envisioned by UNHCR and ACAI to
integrate new refugees into Costa Rica society as rapidly and
successfully as possible. The "House of Rights" facility is integral
to this process. Refugees without marketable skills can receive
computer training at the center to increase their employment
opportunities. Project 2 offers the refugees small loans to enable
them to start a new business with their existing or newly-learned
skills. Both projects are aimed at increasing refugees' chances of
successful entry into the work force and lessening their dependency
on aid programs.

5. AGENCY RESPONSIBLE FOR IMPLEMENTATION/MANAGEMENT OF THE PROJECT
FUNDS: UNHCR's local NGO implementing partner ACAI will manage the
projects. UNHCR representative in Costa Rica Jozef Merkx is
supportive of this initiative and Post has worked with ACAI
previously in refugee assistance projects. Post has on file ACAI's
signed Code of Conduct consistent with the six core principals from
the Inter-Agency Standing Co

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