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Cablegate: Quarterly Consular Corps Anti-Fraud Meeting

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DE RUEHDM #0716 2800954
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R 070954Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6900
INFO RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN 7677
RUEHGB/AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD 0028
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO 3977
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UNCLAS DAMASCUS 000716

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: CVIS KFRD PREF SY IZ
SUBJECT: QUARTERLY CONSULAR CORPS ANTI-FRAUD MEETING

1. SUMMMARY: On September 29, the CG, RSO and the FPM attended the
Damascus quarterly anti-fraud meeting. Over 30 representatives from
Damascus, Amman and Cairo-based embassies attended to discuss a
diverse agenda, but fraud among Iraqi refugees was a recurring theme
in all the discussions. End summary.

2. GERMAN RESETTLEMENT PROGRAM FOR IRAQIS
Germany was wrapping up its Iraqi resettlement program, having
accepted 2,500 refugees. The German representative highlighted the
general unreliability of Iraqi civil documents, but was particularly
skeptical of Iraqi death certificates, estimating that at least 90%
of the death certificates submitted were forged. Apart from death
certificates, of over 6,500 Iraqi documents reviewed by the Germans,
243 were found to be fraudulent, as follows:

Passports - 13
Citizenship Cards - 54
ID Cards - 110
Birth Certificates - 36
Other - 30

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The Germans also provided examples of genuine and fraudulent stamps
on documents issued by the Kurdistan Regional Government.

3. TRENDS AT DAMASCUS AIRPORT
In discussing fraud trends at Damascus International Airport,
participants noted that outward-bound tourism was down to normal
levels following the surge during the Muslim holiday period.
However, fraudulent travel continues. In the two weeks following
the Eid al-Fitr holiday, the Germans had stopped 20 persons from
traveling because of forged visas and European residence permits.
The general trend appears to be Syrians from the Hassakeh and
Qamishly region fleeing military service . The routes chosen are
generally via Cairo or Moscow, with some choosing to take advantage
of the ability to transit Rome without a visa.

4. EU FACT FINDING MISSON CONCERNING IRAQI REFUGEES
Participants reported that an EU Fact Finding Mission, scheduled to
visit Damascus October 7-8, followed by a visit to Amman and then
several days in Baghdad, will be looking at the Iraqi resettlement
process. Its report may set a baseline with regards to the
potential to have displaced Iraqis repatriated to Iraq.

5. JORDANIAN "T" SERIES PASSPORTS/DOCUMENTS
Canadian participants commented that Canada was embroiled in a
discussion about what to do with Palestinians who had arrived in
Canada with Jordanian "T" series passports and were subject to
deportation. When these deportees arrived in Jordan, the Jordanian
authorities stripped them of their right to reside in Jordan and
deported them to the occupied West Bank. The discussion is whether
deportation to Jordan in such a case is tantamount to deportation to
the West Bank.

6. Other issues discussed were:

- the potential fraud impact of the new Turkish-Syrian visa accord,
enabling visa-free travel between Turkey and Syria for citizens of
those countries;

- the imminent start of an Iraqi Airways direct flight from Baghdad
to London (via Ljubljana)

- Syrian abuse of UK short-term student visitor visas. The UK is
currently identifying high risk factors.

- vulnerabilities in the process through which the IOM verifies
Iraqi civil documents.

7. The next meeting is tentatively scheduled to be held in
November.

Hunter

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