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Cablegate: Increase in Tcn Immigrant Visas Causes Concern in Addis

VZCZCXRO6754
PP RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHGI RUEHJO RUEHMA RUEHMR RUEHPA RUEHRN RUEHTRO
DE RUEHDS #2770 3280758
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 240758Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6915
INFO RUEHZO/AFRICAN UNION COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEPADJ/CJTF HOA PRIORITY
RUEWMFD/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEHYN/AMEMBASSY SANAA 1789

UNCLAS ADDIS ABABA 002770

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED

SIPDIS
DEPT FOR PRM, AF/E:JWiegert, G/TIP, CA/VO, CA/FPP, CA/CID

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KFRD CVIS KTIP PHUM PGOV SMIG ELAB KWMN PREL EAID
DJ, SU, ET
SUBJECT: INCREASE IN TCN IMMIGRANT VISAS CAUSES CONCERN IN ADDIS
ABABA

1. (SBU) SUMMARY. The Consular section in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia has
noted a substantial increase in the number of third country national
immigrant visa cases. From FY08 to FY09, post recorded a 13 percent
increase in the total number of immigrant visa cases scheduled.
Over the same period, post has seen a 72 percent increase in the
number of Eritrean immigrant visa cases scheduled and a 26 percent
increase in Somali cases scheduled. Post is concerned about the
increasing number of third country nationals (TCNs) applying for
immigrant visas in Ethiopia and proposes a regional conference to
discuss this growing trend in the Horn of Africa. END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) Last year, 86 Eritrean nationals applied for immigrant
visas in Addis Ababa. For these applicants, the trip is both
difficult and dangerous. One F-1 immigrant visa applicant told
Conoff he began his journey on August 8, 2009 and paid a smuggler
40,000 Nakfa (around USD 2,600) to cross the Ethiopian-Eritrean
border near Rama, in the Tigray region of Ethiopia. After a 10
hour night walk the applicant said he was met by members of the
Ethiopian military, who took him to the Endabaguna transit camp. He
stayed in the transit camp for three days before moving on to the My
Ayni refugee camp, and eventually Addis Ababa. He informed Conoff
that he traveled without any documentation out of fear that, if
found by Eritrean authorities, he would be shot and his family
persecuted.

3. (SBU) An Eritrean 2009 diversity visa lottery winner had a
similar story. He told Conoff he met his smugglers at the Asmara
bus station on August 15, 2009 and paid 50,000 Nakfa (around USD
3,300)for the 12-hour trek across the border. Nearly two weeks
later, on August 29, 2009, the DV applicant crossed the border near
Rama with his smuggler and another person fleeing Eritrea. Like the
F1 applicant three weeks before, the DV winner stated he received
assistance from the Ethiopian military. In this case, specifically
from someone called "the captain". Comment: The ENDF is likely
willing to offer such support for ethnic reasons as many members of
the Ethiopian military are of Tigrayan ethnicity and may have ethnic
or clan connections with the Eritreans who are fleeing. Another
reason might be that the Eritreans have information or intelligence
they are willing to share with the ENDF in exchange for the
assistance they receive. End Comment.

4. (SBU) These personal stories highlight the great expense and risk
that Eritrean applicants endure to gain entry to the United States.
They also reflect an increasing trend of third country nationals
applying for immigrant visas at the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa. In
addition to an upswing in Eritrean applicants, post has seen a 26
percent increase in Somali IV cases, as well as an increase in
Kenyan and Sudanese cases.

5. (SBU) COMMENT: The rising number of third country nationals
applying for immigrant visas in Ethiopia presents challenges for the
consular section in Addis Ababa. In addition to the difficulties
any TCN-processing post has with unfamiliar language, customs, and
documents, many of post's TCN applicants come from neighboring
countries with no reliable civil documents. That factor, combined
with the differences in our neighboring posts' standards for
verification, further complicates the situation. Addis has heard
anecdotally that some posts require DNA for almost all Somali
nationals, where others may more easily issue Ethiopian DV
applicants because they do not recognize a false school certificate.
In summary, consular officers lack regional policy guidance on
adjudicating third country nationals from the Horn of Africa.

6. (SBU) In response, the Consular Section in Addis Ababa proposes
hosting a regional conference to discuss regional immigrant visa,
asylum, and fraud issues. The purpose of this conference would be
three-fold: to gain a better understanding of trends in immigrant
visa cases throughout the Horn of Africa, to discuss regional fraud
trends, and to develop a regional policy for the adjudication of
third country national cases. Ideally, regional participants would
include Immigrant Visa Chiefs and a senior Foreign Service National
from Nairobi, Asmara, Khartoum, Sanna, Djibouti, and Kampala. We
understand that there may be FPP funding available for this project.
Post looks forward to working with counterparts throughout the
region and in Washington on this important topic. END COMMENT.

MEECE

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