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Cablegate: November 2008 Joint Us-Unhcr Resettlement Mission to Chad

VZCZCXRO8691
RR RUEHGI
DE RUEHAR #1536/01 3391701
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 041701Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY ACCRA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7345
INFO RUEHNJ/AMEMBASSY NDJAMENA 0204
RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 0197
RUEHNJ/AMEMBASSY NDJAMENA 0205
RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 0225
RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 0591
RUEHGI/AMEMBASSY BANGUI 0030
RUEHKH/AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM 0039
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 0412

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 ACCRA 001536

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

DEPT FOR AF/C, AF/W, AND PRM
GENEVA FOR RMA
Embassies for Refugee Coordinator

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREF PREL SU CD
SUBJECT: November 2008 Joint US-UNHCR Resettlement Mission to Chad

1. (U) SUMMARY: During the joint US-UNHCR Resettlement Mission to
Chad, all partners concluded that it is both appropriate and
possible to begin a resettlement program for Darfur refugees in
Eastern Chad and Central African Republic refugees in Southern Chad.
Despite significant logistical challenges, particularly in the
East, processing is feasible through coordination with UNHCR and
with the International Organization for Migration(IOM)'s active
involvement. As security will remain a concern, partners will
follow UN security protocols and coordinate closely with N'djamena
RSO to respond appropriately to security issues. UNHCR committed to
referring some 90 refugee cases (approximately 450 persons) by the
end of calendar year 2008 for a pilot processing initiative in
Spring 2009. UNHCR established a target of 5,000 referrals in
calendar year 2009, which will require additional resources and/or
the establishment of an appropriate P2 group.
--------------------------------------------- -
TRIP OVERVIEW: ESTABLISHING RESETTLEMENT PLANS
--------------------------------------------- -

2. (U) PRM Admissions Deputy Director Larry Bartlett, Ndjamena
Refugee Coordinator Perlita Muiruri, and Accra Refugee Coordinator
Emily Mestetsky participated in a UNHCR-organized resettlement
mission to Chad from November 3 to November 12, 2008. UNHCR was
represented by Vincent Cochetel (Resettlement Chief-Geneva), Malika
Floor (Senior Regional Resettlement Chief - Dakar Hub), and Bertrand
Blanc (Resettlement Officer N'Djamena). Accra DHS/USCIS Officer in
Charge also participated in the opening meeting. The key
implementing partners of the US Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP)
were also represented: OPE Accra by Director Vicky Knight and IOM
by Regional Medical Officer Dr. Qasim Sufi. The Hebrew Immigrant
Aid Society (HIAS) was also included in the mission, as a current
implementing partner of psycho-social programs in Chad, resettlement
programs in Nairobi, and a potential resettlement referral partner
in Chad.

3. (U) The mission began On November 3 in N'Djamena with meetings
with UNHCR and host government officials. The team then proceeded
to the South to Gore and the Dosseye refugee camp as well as to
Abeche and the Gaga refugee camp. In both Gore and Abeche, the team
met with UNHCR officers, implementing partners, local government
officials and refugee representatives. OPE and IOM also conducted
preliminary site assessments of potential processing locations and
medical facilities. The team returned to N'Djamena on November 7
for strategic planning meetings with the UNHCR country office and to
out-brief the Embassy.

4. (U) At the close of the trip, the team had developed a plan to
conduct pilot processing of 60 refugee cases in Eastern Chad and 30
refugee cases in Southern Chad, including an estimated total of
400-500 refugees. UNHCR Chad has already begun making individual
referrals of refugees with particular protection or medical
concerns, under UNHCR's standard resettlement criteria. Referrals
are expected by December 31, 2008, OPE pre-screening is anticipated
to occur in February, and DHS interviews in March. In Eastern Chad,
PRM has requested that UNHCR limit the referrals to the four camps
around Farchana, given the difficult logistics involved in accessing
more remote camp locations. IOM will facilitate the movement of
refugees from the camps to Abeche and Gore for resettlement
processing and provide temporary transit facilities, care and
maintenance where and as needed. This departure from usual
procedures in West Africa - where UNHCR handles logistics prior to
DHS approval - would be required in this logistically complex
environment. Processing steps will have to be compressed to
minimize time in the transit center in the pilot phase. UNHCR will
identify office space for processing and DHS adjudications for the
pilot phase and until the program has grown sufficiently to
necessitate the establishment of a separate facility. With
expedited processing, the first departures could take place in the
third quarter of FY09.

5. (U) The pilot will provide an opportunity to address potential
challenges in resettlement processing in Chad. In addition to the
challenging security and logistics, there are several issues that
may arise during adjudication. One of the issues among both Eastern
and Southern refugee populations is the large incidence of
polygamous unions. Some of these marriages are forced or involve
underage brides. In both the East and the South, marriage is
considered a form of security, providing refugee women and girls
with a male protector. Such relationships would have to be
addressed in order to comply with US law and receive affirmative DHS

ACCRA 00001536 002 OF 004


adjudication decisions. In the East, many of the refugees are
sympathetic to some of the Darfuri rebel groups; some may have been
involved as combatants; and others may have provided material
support. These may be considered as inadmissibilities by DHS/USCIS
adjudicators. It is possible for the Departments of State and
Homeland Security to seek a waiver for certain groups; such a waiver
would likely be required for many Darfuri refugees.

6. (U) The pilot would be an interim step in establishing a larger
on-going resettlement program in Chad. In its annual Global
Resettlement Needs report, UNHCR Chad had estimated the resettlement
need for calendar year 2009 at some 4,800 individuals, based on data
already collected. Field officers indicated that the number is
likely much higher. During the mission, the UNHCR set a target for
refugee resettlement for 1,000 individuals in the South and 4,000
individuals in the East. During the mission, UNHCR stated it will
include the required additional resources in its 2009 Resettlement
Initiative funding proposal. Partners also agreed that in the East,
a P2 group would provide the most appropriate vehicle for referral,
given the projected number of referrals and the commonality of the
refugee claims of the refugees who fled Darfur. The 4,000 referrals
in 2009 and any P2 group would initially be limited to the four
camps under the Farchana office as these camps are more easily
accessible and host the longest stayers, who began arriving in 2004.
Given the lack of return prospects to Darfur in the medium term and
the extremely limited prospects for self-sufficiency or local
integration in Eastern Chad, resettlement would likely continue for
several years to come.

-------------------------------------
UNHCR CHAD: Progress on Resettlement
-------------------------------------

7. (SBU) UNHCR Chad has begun to overcome the obstacles that had
impeded the submission of the 50 referrals anticipated in calendar
year 2007 and which reduced the 2008 referral target from 970 to 400
individuals. Although the PRM Resettlement Initiative provided
funds to create resettlement positions in Chad, the jobs have only
recently been filled. The full-time Resettlement Officer arrived in
September and two of three NGO deployees have also just recently
arrived. The office has begun making referral submissions, with
close to 100 individuals referred by mid-November and is progressing
towards the adjusted goal of 90 cases. As the program grows, there
will likely be a need for additional staff, as well as more
concerted efforts in recruitment. It must be noted that the staff
are constrained by the limited number of hours they are able to
spend in the camp and the requirement to take a minimum of one week
leave every six weeks. Abeche has only one officer who can enter
data into the ProGress database, so either additional staff or more
flexible procedures are required.

8. (U) The participation of Vincent Cochetel, the head of the
Resettlement Service in the Department of International Protection
at UNHCR headquarters in Geneva, was instrumental in solidifying
UNHCR-Chad's commitment to use resettlement as a protection tool in
a manner consistent with worldwide policy and procedures. He
underscored UNHCR's commitment to ensure that refugees in Africa,
including Chad, are not excluded from resettlement. Similarly,
Larry Bartlett underscored the United States' commitment to making
this durable solution available even in the challenging Chad
environment, as the US had done in similarly difficult locations
around the world.

--------------------------------------------- ----------
Chad Government: Positive Response to Resettlement Team
--------------------------------------------- ----------
9. (U) The team met with Chad's National Commission for Refugees
(CNAR) Executive Secretary Mahama Nour Abdoulaye, the Protection
Chief and the Legal Advisor. Larry Bartlett explained the United
States Refugee Admissions Program, stressing the need for
partnership with the host government and with UNHCR. CNAR welcomed
this program and offered to assist to help avoid problems and
potential corruption. Other than a request that the criteria for
resettlement be clearly explained to the refugees, CNAR had no
concerns and appeared enthusiastic about resettlement as a way to
help some vulnerable refugees.

----------------------------------------
Embassy Support for Resettlement Program
-----------------------------------------

ACCRA 00001536 003 OF 004

10. (U) PRM appreciates the generous Embassy support given to
N'djamena-based refugee coordinator as well as to this mission. The
RSO provided useful information on the security situation and agreed
in principle to conduct site surveys of the space that will be used
by DHS/USCIS refugee adjudicators. PRM will coordinate with Post on
the hiring of an Assistant Refugee coordinator, a position that will
also serve to minimize upcoming missions' impact on the Embassy.
Accra and N'Djamena refugee coordinators will continue to coordinate
on upcoming missions and RSO clearance on the adjudication site,
with the final instruction cable to be sent from PRM and DS
Washington.

--------------------------------------------- -----
SOUTHERN CHAD: Cases, logistics, and expectations
--------------------------------------------- -----

11. (U) During the visit, the team met with UNHCR Head of Gore Field
Office Monica Sandiri, field office staff, local government
officials, and refugee leaders. The team met with refugee leaders
in the Dosseye Camp and briefly explored perceptions about current
conditions in the camp, acceptance by the local Chadian community,
the potential for return to the Central African Republic, and
interest in third country resettlement.


12. (U) The UNHCR field office in Gore administers a program for
some 53,000 refugees from the Central African Republic in five camps
in the south. Three are situated near Gore in the Southwest and two
near Danamadji in the Southeast. Arrivals began in 2003, when an
estimated 55,000 entered Chad and smaller numbers are continuing to
arrive at 100 per month. CAR refugees have been recognized on a
prima facie basis, the majority of which are from the Peuhl tribe,
nomadic cattle herders from the CAR. UNHCR programs in the South
have focused largely on self-reliance with a good degree of success,
but there remain a significant number of refugees with particular
protection or medical needs. Protection officers in the field have
already begun identifying such individuals for resettlement
referral. UNHCR also plans to re-verify registration data on
refugees in the South in order to better determine the potential
magnitude of an on-going program and elicit additional refugee
referrals.

13. (U) Conditions in the South are basic, but resettlement
processing is feasible given the availability of generators and
satellite communications. Security conditions in the South are good
and Gore is accessible from N'Djamena by a 6-7 hour road trip or by
flight to Moundou. UNHCR has established a good platform for its
operations in the South and has offices, housing, internet, and
other communications equipment that the USG could access for initial
operations. If the program is to grow in FY2010 and beyond, there
would likely be a need to build offices and housing facilities for
OPE and DHS staff involved in processing and adjudication.

14. (U) The IOM medical officer, Dr. Qasim surveyed the MSF
hospital in Gore as a possible site for IOM's medical screening and
found it suitable, so long as MSF continues to work at the hospital
beyond their planned May 2009 departure date. As a backup, Dr.
Qassim surveyed the hospital in Moundou and concluded it can host
x-ray and laboratory work, the two most complicated elements of
refugee medical screening.

--------------------------------------------
EASTERN CHAD: PLANS FOR DARFURI RESETTLEMENT
--------------------------------------------

15. (U) In Abeche, UNHCR briefed the group on the lack of real
possibilities for self-sufficiency, local integration or
repatriation in the near or medium term. There are significant
protection needs and a large number of Darfuri for whom resettlement
would be both a protection tool and a durable solution. In addition
to refugees meeting UNHCR resettlement criteria (medical, disabled,
women-at-risk, elderly, unaccompanied minors, and survivors of
violence and torture) UNHCR also expressed concern for adolescents
at risk of military or rebel recruitment or forced marriage.
UNHCR's Abeche office is working to complete referrals for 60 cases
(350-400 individuals) by the end of calendar year 2008 for the pilot
processing program anticipated in the spring. In calendar year
2009, UNHCR will work toward referring 4,000 individuals, but they
also noted that they will be requesting additional resources under

ACCRA 00001536 004 OF 004


the Resettlement Initiative to meet this goal.

16. (U) The team visited the Gaga office (a sub-office of the
Farchana field office) and the Gaga refugee camp, a 2.5 hour bumpy
drive from Abeche. In Gaga, in separate meetings with
representatives of refugee men and women, the team discussed
conditions in the camp, coping mechanisms, and durable solutions,
including resettlement. The women had all experienced severe
violence and torture, but views on resettlement differed by age.
Older women thought that they would likely die in the camps, but
would consider returning home when Bashir and the Janjaweed were
ousted. Younger women were unwilling to return and interested in
resettlement. In the men's meeting, the prevalence of polygamy was
raised and the fact that most resettlement countries would not allow
them to maintain two wives. Despite the challenges of an abrupt
shift in lifestyle and occupation, at least a quarter of the men
present expressed interest in potential third country resettlement.

17. (SBU) Resettlement referrals to date have been based on
individual identification by protection and community services
staff. Given the limited staff, limited time in the camps, and the
enormity of the need, other methods would be required to adequately
address resettlement needs. The Abeche office is conducting a
verification exercise for the camps, with the exception of Am Nabak
where refugee resistance has impeded effective registration. During
the verification, officers will be confirming family composition and
noting individual vulnerabilities in the ProGress database. This
would allow for the more proactive identification vulnerable
refugees and could be used as the basis for P2 group resettlement.

----------------------------
CONCLUSIONS AND FUTURE NEEDS
-----------------------------

(U) Each meeting during the mission revealed two key issues
concerning refugee resettlement. First, there is a large number of
vulnerable refugees for whom resettlement would offer life-saving
protection. Second, refugee resettlement will be logistically
challenging. In its evaluation, the team concluded that the needs
of the refugees in Chad merited taking steps to address the
logistical challenges. Arrangements will be coordinated through
UNHCR, to the maximum extent possible. As noted previously, PRM
will seek Post assistance in hiring a Refugee Assistant and in
conducting security surveys of interviewing sites.

19. (U) This cable has been cleared by PRM/A Deputy Director Larry
Bartlett and N'Djamena Refugee Coordinator Perlita Muiruri.

TEITELBAUM

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