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Cablegate: Annual Tripartite Consultations On Refugee

R 221528Z JUL 08
FM USMISSION GENEVA
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 6773

UNCLAS GENEVA 000566


DEPT FOR PRM

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREF
SUBJECT: ANNUAL TRIPARTITE CONSULTATIONS ON REFUGEE
RESETTLEMENT

1. (U) SUMMARY: PRM/A,s Director and Deputy Director, along
with USCIS, HHS and NGO representatives, attended the June 30
) July 2 Annual Tripartite Consultations on Refugee
Resettlement hosted by UNHCR in Geneva. Some 170 participants
representing 29 governments (both those currently resettling
refugees and those contemplating resettlement programs), many
NGOs and UNHCR resettlement field staff devoted 2.5 days to
learning from UNHCR presentations and engaging in
inter-active sessions on themes of common interest to
resettlement countries. In its presentation on regional
resettlement needs, UNHCR announced a global need of over
500,000 resettlement places in the next few years, although
its own capacity to process and refer refugees to
resettlement countries is less than a quarter of that number.
A particular focus of the High Commissioner is addressing
protracted refugee situations and the role of resettlement in
these efforts. Eight break-out sessions on topics of common
interest allowed participants to share experiences and
concerns. End Summary

2. UNHCR convened the fourteenth Annual Tripartite
Consultations on Refugee Resettlement in Geneva June 30 )
July 2 with a record 170 participants representing current
resettlement governments, governments considering becoming
resettlement states, NGO representatives and UNHCR staff
(both headquarters and field-based) involved in resettlement.
USG representatives were Terry Rusch and Larry Bartlett of
PRM,s Admissions office, DHS/USCIS Refugee Affairs Director
Barbara Strack and HHS/Office of Refugee Resettlement Acting
Director David Siegel. U.S. NGOs were represented by Bob
Carey (International Rescue Committee), Ambassador Johnny
Young (U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops), Anne Wilson
(Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service), Mark Hetfield
(Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society) and Elizabeth Campbell
(Refugee Council USA).

3. Erika Feller, UNHCR,s Assistant High Commissioner for
Protection, welcomed the participants on behalf of High
Commissioner Guterres. (Guterres joined participants in some
of the &break out8 sessions on Day 2.) Feller noted the
progress made to date in increasing the profile of
resettlement within the organization and the significant
increase in the number of referrals made by UNHCR (98,999 in
2007) but also noted the significant gaps between the
Resettlement Services, current estimate of the need for over
500,000 resettlement places in the next few years, their
capacity to refer them and the number of places currently
available from resettlement countries. Feller described the
High Commissioner,s focus on identifying durable solutions
for stateless persons and those in protracted refugee
situations and the important role resettlement can play in
this process. She commended the Government of Canada for its
leadership and hard work during the past year as chair of the
Resettlement Working Group.

4. Rose Mapendo, a Congolese Tutsi former refugee and
survivor of prolonged detention in the Democratic Republic of
the Congo ) now a U.S. citizen NGO leader ) gave an
emotionally riveting presentation on her own experiences and
implored the international community to continue to rescue
and assist refugees in need around the world.

5. Vincent Cochetel, Chief of UNHCR,s Resettlement
Service, reviewed: the 83 percent increase in resettlement
referrals made in 2007; significantly increased departures
(49,868); a 72 percent increase in the resettlement of Women
at Risk cases; the increase in the number of resettlement
countries (now over 20); the availability in the near future
of a transit facility in Romania where urgent resettlement
cases could be taken for processing and the likely opening of
a similar transit center in the Philippines at a later date;
and the High Commissioner,s focus on addressing protracted
situations through the use of all durable solutions )
including resettlement.

6. Four regional resettlement needs presentations were
provided in breakout session format which allowed
participants to obtain from UNHCR updated information on
populations in need of resettlement and discuss particular
logistical or other challenges to undertaking resettlement
processing for them. USG participants covered all sessions.

7. A special session involving interested governments and
UNHCR representatives focused on the resettlement needs of
Palestinians from Iraq. The 2,000 in Al Waleed camp near the
Syrian border, the 726 in Al Tanf camp located in the
no-man,s land between Iraq and Jordan and the 296 in El Hol
camp in Syria represent the highest priority resettlement
cases for UNHCR. Sudan has offered to allow up to 2,000 to
resettle in Khartoum but UNHCR is looking for additional
resettlement assistance from other governments as well.
Brazil, Chile, Canada, Sweden and the U.S. have already
resettled Palestinians from Iraq. Several governments in
attendance pledged willingness to consider additional
Palestinian cases.

8. Most of days two and three were devoted to eight
break-out sessions which afforded participants the
opportunity to share experiences and develop recommendations
for adoption and implementation by ATC participants. Topics
including: how best to offer assistance to new resettlement
countries in launching national programs;
challenges/opportunities in family reunification ) including
use of DNA testing; resettling refugees with serious medical
needs; resettlement of women, girls and children at risk; use
of resettlement in addressing protracted situations;
employment,s role in integration; and experience to date
with Iraqi resettlement were covered. The USG and US NGO
reps took the lead in four of the eight sessions.

9. The United Kingdom assumed the chair of the Refugee
Working Group for the coming year.


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