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Cablegate: Unhcr:Hc Guterres On Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran

VZCZCXRO4042
PP RUEHPW
DE RUEHGV #0775/01 2601546
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 161546Z SEP 08
FM USMISSION GENEVA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7172
INFO RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD 5160
RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL 0341
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 3034
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 5728
RUEHPW/AMCONSUL PESHAWAR 0159
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO 4319
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 2823
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEHNSC/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 GENEVA 000775

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: AF EAGR EAID IR PGOV PHUM PK PREF
SUBJECT: UNHCR:HC GUTERRES ON AFGHANISTAN, PAKISTAN, IRAN

-------
Summary
-------

1. (SBU) UNHCR High Commissioner Guterres painted a grim
picture of the situation in Northwestern Pakistan during a
briefing to key donors. Describing the situation there as
the most worrisome in the world at the moment, he called on
the International Community to support both the current
government in Islamabad and efforts to provide assistance to
Pakistanis (as well as Afghan refugees) in refugee-affected
areas. On Afghanistan, Guterres said that the security
situation and the government's low capacity to provide
services preclude any dramatic increase in returns of
refugees for the time being. He hopes the November 19
Conference on Afghan Refugees will focus on the need for
providing services to returnees at the local level. Guterres
described his discussions in Teheran as very difficult, but
leaving an opening to come to agreement on the treatment of
Afghan refugees in Iran. In an aside to the Charge after the
briefing, Guterres stated that we need to take a more
sophisticated approach towards Teheran. End Summary.

----------------------------------------
Pakistan: Grave Concerns about Stability
----------------------------------------

2. (SBU) The Charge and RMA Counselor attended a September 15
briefing at the Dutch embassy by High Commissioner Guterres
on his recent trip to Pakistan and Iran, as well as on the
November 19 conference on Afghan refugees to be hosted by
UNHCR and the Afghan government. Guterres went on at length
about his concerns regarding the overall political/security
situation in the Northwest Frontier Province and the
Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), and to a certain
extent the adjacent Afghan regions. Militias are operating
independently and have access to drug money, local
populations are disaffected with the government, local
services are overwhelmed and/or dysfunctional, he stated. He
called this situation currently the most worrisome in the
world. Guterres called on the International Community to
look at it from a perspective broader than the problems
associated with Afghanistan, as the potential chaos is
considerable and would have broad impact in the region.
Guterres believes the current leadership in Pakistan has good
intentions, but does not necessarily enjoy the full support
of the entire bureaucracy, including the military.
Therefore, while the leadership seems to grasp the
seriousness of the situation and wants to re-establish
control of these regions, the government is also fragile and
it is unclear how effective it can be. Guterres called for
concerted international action to support the GOP, as well as
Pakistanis affected by conflict. The UN will launch a 5-year
consolidated appeal for $135 (of which $45m for UNHCR) for
the refugee-impacted areas of Pakistan. UNDP will be
responsible for a larger amount, as the approach will focus
on development for both Pakistanis and the refugee population.

-------------------------
Afghan Refugee Conference
-------------------------

3. (SBU) Guterres began by stating that the expectations a
few years ago that most of the Afghan refugees in Pakistan
and Iran would soon return home are no longer realistic
because of both the security situation in Afghanistan and the
government's limited capacity to support returnees. Of the
360,000 who returned in 2007, 12 percent had nowhere to
return to and the government was essentially unable to
provide support. Guterres hopes that the November conference
will expose the need for community development and service in
areas of return, with a focus on organizing local services
that can deliver. Through this focus, he hopes both Kabul
and donors will come to terms with the groundwork that needs
to be laid for future refugee returns and that Iran and
Pakistan will understand that the numbers of Afghan refugees
in their countries will not be diminishing dramatically for
the time being, lest they overwhelm Afghanistan's capacity to
receive them.

GENEVA 00000775 002 OF 002

--------------------------------------------
Iran: Need for a More Sophisticated Approach
--------------------------------------------

4. (SBU) Guterres described Iran as difficult and always
ready to blame the West for every problem. Nonetheless, he
believes that the International Community (including UNHCR)
needs to do more to address the refugee problems there
through increased engagement with Teheran. There are huge
flows of Afghans continuing to come from the west and the
north of Afghanistan into Iran. The government in Teheran is
committed to non-refoulement, Guterres said, but also does
not want refugees settling in certain areas (No Go Areas),
where there are some legitimate concerns about security and
the already poor situation of Iranians living there. He
believes that the government wishes to provide basic
protection to refugees, but will expect increased
international support in exchange. He described discussions
with the GOI during his visit as very difficult, though he
believed there is room for negotiations. Guterres said that
Teheran consistently complained about how small UNHCR's
program was in Iran compared to Pakistan. In response,
Guterres said that a larger program would require concessions
by Teheran on issues such as freedom of movement and greater
independence of action. He reported that UNHCR will continue
discussions with Iran, as there is a need to engage before
the situation deteriorates for the refugees and other
migrants there.

5. (SBU) In a pull-aside after the briefing, Guterres
stressed to the Charge the need to adopt a more sophisticated
approach toward Teheran. He admitted that the GOI can be
difficult and may be involved in some nefarious activities,
but it is the most sophisticated government in the area with
a strategy for refugees, for its own country and for what it
sees as its role in the region. The Iranians leave room for
negotiation in most everything they do and we all need to be
more nuanced in taking advantage of that, he said.
STORELLA

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