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Cablegate: 11th Hour Reprieve for Ruweished Refugee Camp

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS AMMAN 008608

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

DEPT FOR NEA AND PRM; GENEVA FOR RMA
CPA FOR J.JOHNSON

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREF PREL KPAL IZ JO UNHCR
SUBJECT: 11TH HOUR REPRIEVE FOR RUWEISHED REFUGEE CAMP

REF: A. AMMAN 7798
B. STATE 350022

1. (SBU) The GOJ informed UNHCR today, December 31, that the
Ruweished refugee camp would be allowed to remain open until
April 2004. The GOJ previously had pledged to close the camp
by December 31 (ref a). 536 individuals remain in the camp,
including 60 Sudanese and Somali nationals who have been
approved for resettlement in the U.S. and are undergoing
final processing. The majority of the camp residents -- 345
-- are Iraqi-Palestinians who seek to "return" to the West
Bank or Gaza, a request the Israeli Government is unlikely to
approve.

2. (SBU) UNHCR Officer-in-Charge Chizu Matsuri told refcoord
that ten Sudanese and Somali rejected asylum seekers left the
Ruweished refugee camp on December 30, opting for a voluntary
return to Iraq rather than to their countries of origin.
Matsuri was hopeful that other camp residents, particularly
the Iraqi-Palestinians, would follow suit.

3. (SBU) Comment: We expect that small-scale voluntary
returns from the camp to Iraq will continue over the next few
months, as it becomes clear that resettlement is not an
option for the remaining camp residents. GOJ recognition of
this ongoing, spontaneous return process -- as well as GOJ
desire to protect its good reputation on humanitarian issues
-- likely played a key role in the decision to allow the camp
to remain open into the new year. Given USG concerns that
countries bordering Iraq promote a patient, organized program
of returns (ref b), we will continue to urge the GOJ to allow
the camp to remain open as long as it is needed.

4. (U) CPA Baghdad minimize considered.
GNEHM

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