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Cablegate: Unhcr Regional Resettlement Strategic Planning


DE RUEHBK #7429 3490352
R 150352Z DEC 06




E.O. 12958: N/A

1. Terry Rusch, PRM Refugee Admissions Director, Mike
Honnold, Bangkok Regional Refugee Coordinator and Jessica
Adler, Deputy Regional Refugee Coordinator participated in
the December 7 - 8 Regional Resettlement Strategic Planning
Meeting organized by the United Nations High Commissioner for
Refugees (UNHCR) in Bangkok. Staff of eleven East and South
Asian UNHCR offices attended as did government
representatives from eight resettlement countries and the
International Organization for Migration (IOM).

2. This was the fourth in a series of regional strategic
planning meetings and was chaired by UNHCR,s Resettlement
Service Director of the Division of International Protection
in Geneva, Vincent Cochetel. (Previous meetings were held in
Accra, Nairobi, and Beirut.) The purpose of these sessions is
to review the current resettlement need from the region,
identify challenges to meeting the need and share best

3.The situation of the sizeable Burmese refugee population in
Thailand, Malaysia and Bangladesh dominated the discussion.
While the Royal Thai Government has recently agreed to allow
third country resettlement processing of the 140,000 Burmese
in camps along its border with Burma, significant staffing
and logistical challenges persist. The remote location of
some of these camps complicates selection missions for
smaller resettlement countries who do not maintain a
permanent field processing infrastructure and are dependent
on UNHCR for support. The sizeable number of children
residing in the camps while their natural parents are either
still in Burma or are working elsewhere in Thailand presents
special considerations when their relatives or other
custodial adults are under consideration for resettlement.
The need for trained child welfare staff to conduct "Best
Interests of the Child Determinations" is acute. The lack of
common family names and knowledge of birthdates among the
refugee population presents unique challenges to
documentation and raises potential fraud concerns.

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4. The recent availability of "waivers" for the material
support for terrorism provision in U.S. immigration law for
the Karen and Chin was hailed as a most welcome development
as considerable anxiety had developed in the camps as to what
this ineligibility meant. The dire living conditions of the
urban Chin refugees in Malaysia and the Rohingyas in
Bangladesh argue for durable solutions to be found for these
groups as well. Participants were also updated on the current
political situation within and prospects for repatriation to

5. The group also benefited from brief presentations on the
refugee situation in other countries (Nepal, India, Sri
Lanka, Hong Kong and Indonesia) in the region.

6. Comment: In recent years and at the urging of
resettlement countries, the profile of third country
resettlement has been raised considerably within UNHCR. The
organization has made significant progress in training
protection and other staff to both recognize the need for and
follow through on the use of resettlement as a viable
protection tool and durable solution. The U.S. has
contributed considerable financial and moral support to this
effort and USG participants in the Bangkok meeting were
pleased to see the positive and tangible results.

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