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Cablegate: Unhcr Jordan: No Plans for Large-Scale Iraqi Repatriations

VZCZCXRO4325
OO RUEHBC RUEHDA RUEHDE RUEHIHL RUEHKUK
DE RUEHAM #2564 2471322
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 031322Z SEP 08
FM AMEMBASSY AMMAN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3452
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 0673

UNCLAS AMMAN 002564

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

NEA/ELA, PRM/ANE

Ref: a) Cairo 01762; b) OSC Document GMP20080902663003

E.O. 12958: DECL: N/A
TAGS: PREF EAID IZ JO
SUBJECT: UNHCR Jordan: No Plans for Large-Scale Iraqi Repatriations

1. (SBU) Summary: A press report that Iraqi-chartered planes would
fly Iraqi refugees home from Jordan before the end of Ramadan is an
exaggeration. UNHCR-Jordan and the GOI discussed possible
repatriation methods during a late August 2008 meeting. However,
neither party committed to plans for an operation in September.
UNHCR will assist Iraqis who voluntarily return home on an
individual basis. End summary.

2. (SBU) Jordanian media reported September 3 that Abd-Al-Samad
Abd-Al-Rahman, Iraqi Minister of Immigration and Displaced Persons,
recently met with IOM and UNHCR-Jordan to discuss the chartering of
planes to bring home Iraqi refugees (paragraph 6 below). RefCoord
followed up with Arafat Jamal, UNHCR JordanQs Deputy Country
Representative. Jamal told us that Abd-al-Rahman paid a visit to
Jordan during the weekend of August 30-31. During the Minister's
visit, according to Jamal, he expressed the GOIQs strong interest in
encouraging repatriation to Iraq. The Minister told UNHCR that the
security situation in Iraq warranted general repatriation, and that
450 Iraqis had already asked the Iraqi Embassy in Amman for
assistance in returning home.

3. (SBU) One of the methods of repatriation discussed in general
terms was the use of Iraqi-charted aircraft to fly refugees to
Baghdad, as had been done in Egypt in August (Ref a). According to
Jamal, UNHCR told the Minister that UNHCR would assist Iraqis to
repatriate on an individual basis based on the merits of each case.
Jamal explained to RefCoord that those seeking return had individual
reasons for wanting to go home, but that UNHCR had no indication
that significant numbers of minorities and other vulnerable Iraqis
wished to return at this time.

4. (SBU) UNHCR was in the process of interviewing potential Iraqi
returnees during RefCoord's visit. Initial findings, per Jamal,
indicated that while hundreds of Iraqis had approached the Iraqi
Embassy and UNHCR for information about possible repatriation, few
had plans to return home in the near future. Jamal stressed that
UNHCR would continue to follow a policy of evaluating the merit of
any application for assisted repatriation to Iraq. Note: Iraqis
wishing to return spontaneously without UNHCR support can do so at
any time. End note.

6. (U) The following is the text of a Jordanian report of the
Minister's visit.

Amman Al-Ghadd in Arabic 02 Sep 08 p 3A [Report by Mu'ayyad
Abu-Subayh: "Private airplanes to transport Iraqis in the kingdom
home"]

An informed Iraqi source announced that his country's government
plans to charter private airplanes to facilitate the return of Iraqi
refugees in the kingdom [Jordan] back to their country following the
noticeable improvement in the security situation in Baghdad.

The source told Al-Ghadd yesterday that "Abd-al-Samad Abd-al-Rahman,
Iraqi minister of immigration and displaced persons, recently met
with officials from the International Immigration Organization and
the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. They discussed
the means for chartering private airplanes or transportation
vehicles at the Iraqi Government's expense to facilitate the return"
of refugees in the kingdom to their country.

He added: "It is expected that the first group will leave during the
second half of the holy month of Ramadan after all the travel
preparations have been completed." End quote.


Visit AmmanQs Classified Web Site at
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/nea/amman

BEECROFT

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