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Cablegate: November 2008 Conference On Afghan Refugees

VZCZCXRO6176
RR RUEHPW
DE RUEHBUL #2236 2350232
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 220232Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5199
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 5207
RHMFIUU/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS KABUL 002236

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR SCA/FO, SCA/A, EB/TPP/ATP, PRM
DEPT PASS USAID/ASIA BUREAU, AID/ANE, DCHA/FFP, DCHA/OFDA
NSC FOR JWOOD
OSD FOR SHIVERS
CG CJTF-82, POLAD, JICCENT

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAGR EAID PHUM PREF PGOV PREL PK AF
SUBJECT: November 2008 Conference on Afghan Refugees

Ref: A - Kabul 1493

1. (SBU) Summary: The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (IROA) and
the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) will
co-host the International Conference on Return and Reintegration in
Kabul on November 19, 2008. The conference will address the
difficult issues related to the Afghan refugee population still
residing in Pakistan and Iran. UNHCR Kabul hopes to use the
conference to urge Pakistan (especially) and Iran to change their
policies of potentially unsustainable and politically sensitive
levels of repatriation/deportation while offering more reasonable
alternative targets and implementing arrangements.


2. (SBU) Co-chaired by IROA Foreign Minister Dr. Rangin Dadfar
Spanta and UNHCR Antonio Guterres, the conference will not be a
donor's conference but rather a mechanism to seek a policy
convergence among IROA, neighboring countries (Pakistan and Iran),
and donor countries on how return and reintegration can be enhanced
given Afghanistan's limited absorption capacity (Ref A). UNHCR will
present a five-year strategy and plan of implementation for return
and reintegration, based on the costing exercise currently being
undertaken for the Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS)
for 2009-2013. The plan would include a realistic level of return
(maximum 1 million persons over five years), which UNHCR hopes will
spur donors into increasing resources for existing programs in key
provinces and sectors. UNHCR hopes countries will send
Ministerial-level envoys to the conference with enough clout to
bring the key players together over a realistic and productive
outcome.

3. (SBU) UNHCR and the IROA Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation
(MORR) are already sharing ideas informally with Pakistan and Iran
on the conference agenda. Through the costing exercise, which will
provide costs for reintegration by sectors (e.g., education and
health) and geographic areas, UNHCR hopes to stave off Iran's
attempts to quantify how much it costs to repatriate or integrate
one individual. They fear Iran would use a per/person cost to
coerce donors to fund that number times a deportation target, e.g.,
$75 million to reintegrate 100,000 deportees at $750 each. Iran
would then feel justified in deporting 100,000 Afghans since the
donor community was paying to reintegrate them.

4. (SBU) Given the difficult security and political situations in
both Afghanistan and Pakistan, and Afghanistan's chronically
strained relationship with Iran, it seems unlikely that any of the
three governments will be able to focus enough energy on the
conference to find agreement on a rational, mutually acceptable
repatriation and reintegration plan. One positive outcome could be
that Pakistan and Iran could take some political cover from the
conference to walk back slightly from their public positions that
their Afghan populations should depart (voluntarily) soon -- a
position that many officials recognize privately as unrealistic but
dare not voice publicly. In return, both countries would want a
strong commitment of continued donor support for programs for Afghan
refugees and deportees in the three countries through 2013 and
likely beyond.

5. (U) This cable has been cleared by Embassy Islamabad.

WOOD

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