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Cablegate: Damascus Refugee Sitrep 5

VZCZCXYZ0000
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHDM #0470 1841528
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 021528Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5143
INFO RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN 7355
RUEHGB/AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD 0896
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT 4954
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO 3680
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 0432
RUEHGVA/USMISSION GENEVA 0635

UNCLAS DAMASCUS 000470

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR PRM F/O, NEA/ELA, NEA/I

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PREL SY IZ
SUBJECT: DAMASCUS REFUGEE SITREP 5

1. (SBU) This is the fifth in a series of Embassy Damascus's
updates on refugee processing in Syria.

2. (SBU) SUMMARY: IOM reported its medical case load and
out-processing projections for June through September 2008
and announced that all cases in WRAPS are now up to date.
UNHCR met its FY2008 goal of 3900 individual referals to DHS
and told Elizabeth Harris, PRM/A, on 25 June that UNHCR would
meet referral targets for the next DHS circuit ride beginning
August 9. GAO wants to send a team to Damascus in July to
look at assistance and resettlement efforts. We are also
expecting a CDC team in August to meet with panel physicians.
END SUMMARY

3. (SBU) REFUGEE MEDICALS: At Post's first monthly meeting
with IOM and the panel physicians in early June, the
physicians agreed to continue to process the billing for
medical cases that are referred to outside specialists. IOM
projects that 700 cases will be sent to the physicians
between 1 June and 7 July. IOM also noted a more balanced
distributuion of cases between the three Damascus-based
physicians: 498, 438, and 432 cases for the period of 19
March through 26 May. The physicians were pleased with
recent improvements in case distribution, operational
communication with IOM and a more timely exchange of case
files.

4. (SBU) RESETTLEMENT PROJECTIONS: IOM Damascus provided its
projections for out-processing and resettlement of
individuals through the end of FY 2008: 650 for June, 700 for
July, 800 for August, and 1450 for September. Ibrahim
Masaad, IOM Senior Operations Officer, added IOM Damascus had
confirmed seats on air carriers for all the July cases, and
it would soon confirm all the August and September cases.

5. (SBU) IOM DAMASCUS UPDATE: IOM reported that all WRAPS
case files have been brought up to date to be concurrent with
their physical case files. IOM staffers are now updating
case files immediately in WRAPS to accurately reflect its
status as it moves forward. Massad attributed this to recent
staff training in Amman and Cairo, adding that IOM has now
moved out of its expansion and training phase and could
increase its caseload. For FY 2008, as of 18 June, 1654
individuals had been processed and departed for the U.S.
through IOM. IOM Damascus currently has six staff members at
IOM Cairo to assist with the Damascus case load as well as
four more individuals on loan to IOM Amman to assist with
Amman's case load. Ibrahim noted that no shows for
resettlement flights were less than one per cent of the total
scheduled.

6. (SBU) UNHCR DELIVERS: Angela Murru, UNHCR Protection
Officer, said that as of 6 June 2008, UNHCR had referred 4255
individuals for resettlement to the U.S. The goal of 3900
individuals for FY 2008 was met at the end of April.

7. (SBU) PRM AT IOM: PRM Program Officer Elizabeth Harris
spent 25 June with IOM Damascus. She conducted a Town Hall
meeting with IOM staff, and in discussions with Maria Rumman,
IOM Damascus Chief, resolved that IOM would bring specific
cases of incomplete medicals to the panel physicians'
attention to improve the quality of medicals and facilitate
final resettlement. While at IOM, Harris also met with
Michelle Alfaro, UNHCR's newly-arrived Senior Resettlement
Officer. Alfaro assured Harris that while UNHCR was
currently concentrating on referrals to other countries'
resettlement programs, UNHCR would be able to provide
sufficient referrals for the August 9 - September 20 DHS
circuit ride to Damascus.

8. (SBU) GAO VISIT: A five-member Government Accountability
Office team has requested visas and country clearance to
visit Damascus July 19 - 26. The team plans to review U.S.
and international efforts to protect and assist Iraqi
refugees. They have asked post to assist in identifying and
arranging meetings with officials and organizations involved
in assistance and resettlement.

9. (SBU) CDC VISIT: Three physicians from the Center for
Disease Control will be in the region 25 July - 20 August.
The Syria portion of their trip is 14 - 20 August. They will
conduct outreach to panel physicians in Jordan, Egypt,
Lebanon and Syria and address increased fees and new TB
technical instructions.
CORBIN

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