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Cablegate: Egypt: Still Incomplete Unhcr Access to Eritreans

VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHEG #1388 1841248
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 021248Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY CAIRO
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9736

UNCLAS CAIRO 001388

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PREF PREL EG ER
SUBJECT: EGYPT: STILL INCOMPLETE UNHCR ACCESS TO ERITREANS

REF: A. CAIRO 1322
B. SECSTATE 68478

Sensitive but unclassified, not for Internet distribution.

1. (SBU) On July 1, the Ambassador told Deputy Foreign
Minister Wafaa Bassim that the USG is concerned that the GOE
was still not providing the UNHCR complete access to Eritrean
asylum seekers in Egyptian custody. UNHCR Deputy Regional
Representative for Protection Katharina Lumpp had confirmed
on June 29 that UNHCR was completing processing of
approximately 200 Eritrean asylum seekers being held near
Aswan, but that the GOE was still refusing UNHCR access to
prisons elsewhere in Egypt where UNHCR had credible
information that Eritreans were currently being, or had
previously been, detained (ref A).

2. (SBU) Bassim denied that Egypt is holding Eritreans or
other migrants or refugees in locations other than Aswan.
When asked if it was true that the UNHCR had requested access
to Eritrean asylum seekers since February 2008, Basim
responded that she did not know, but that UNHCR in Cairo is
"difficult to deal with." The GOE prefers to work with the
UNHCR's Geneva headquarters, she said.

3. (SBU) The Ambassador noted USG willingness to consider
resettlement cases referred by the UNHCR. Bassim said that
the GOE appreciated this, but offered her view that African
migrants in Egypt in fact seek to ultimately reach the U.S.
or other developed countries. A resettlement policy, she
explained, would potentially reward illegal entry into Egypt.

4. (SBU) Note and comment: Per refs, Foreign Minister Aboul
Gheit and other MFA contacts previously requested that the
U.S. and international community "do more" to resettle
African refugees from Egypt. We will follow up to determine
the official GOE position on resettlement for this refugee
population.
SCOBEY

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