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Cablegate: Refugee Updates: Got Acknowledges Obligations, but Still

DE RUEHDR #0758/01 3100345
R 060345Z NOV 09




E.O. 12958: N/A


1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Due to security and domestic political concerns,
GOT continues to push for the repatriation of the Burundian refugees
in the Mtabila camp. While initial steps towards invoking the
cessation clause have been taken, UNHCR hopes to avoid a scenario
where the refugees are forced to return and has increased the
incentives offered to those willing to repatriate as a means of
encouragement. GOT acknowledges that conditions in the DRC are not
conducive to repatriation and is committed to living up to
international obligations vis-a-vis this group. The GOT has granted
citizenship to 29,000 Burundian refugees living in the settlements
and aims to complete the naturalization process for the remaining
population by the end of the year. The GOT plans to relocate these
individuals to various regions within Tanzanian over the next two
years. UNHCR estimates this effort will cost more than USD 20
million per year. END SUMMARY

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2. (U) On October 26, Washington-based Program Officer in the Bureau
of Population, Refugees and Migration (ProgOff), Wendy Henning; and
Kampala-based Refugee Program Assistant (RefPA), Annie Gacukuzi met
separately with UNHCR, Red Cross, and Ministry of Home Affairs
officials to discuss the status of the remaining refugees in
Tanzania. Accompanied by PolOff, ProgOff and RefPA met with Indrika
Ratwatte, Deputy Representative; Eveline Wolfcarius, Associate
External Relations Officer; and Ron Mponda, Senior Protection
Officer, at UNHCR; Charles Nzuki, Assistant Director, Refugee
Services at the Ministry of Home Affairs; and representatives from
the Spanish, American, and Tanzanian Red Cross.

Mtabila: Status of the Remaining Refugees
3. (SBU) Ratwatte started off the meeting at UNHCR by presenting the
GOT's perspective on the refugees in the Mtabila camp (ref a). He
said the GOT feels it has done enough for these refugees, having
supported the peace process and offered them refuge for more than 15
years. With conditions in Burundi safe for these refugees to return
and their rationale for staying no longer refugee related, the GOT
would like to see the 35,000 Burundians in the Mtabila camp leave
Tanzania. According to Ratwatte, the GOT believes allowing them to
remain only perpetuates the cycle of dependence, particularly as the
refugees are provided with better living conditions than average
Tanzanians. The GOT would like to see Burundi increase its efforts
to facilitate the return of these refugees. Ratwatte suspects that
GOT leaders feel pressure to live up to their promises to have
Tanzania 'refugee free' by 2010 in the lead up to the October 2010
elections. He noted that the Minister of Home Affairs, Lawrence
Masha, has been criticized by the opposition for compromising
national security by granting citizenship to the 1972 Burundian

4. (SBU) Ratwatte also noted that the GOT has security concerns
related to this refugee population as there have been reports that
some of them are armed. According to UNHCR, Tanzanian police
arrested a few armed men in the camp, but most were released and
likely returned to the camp. Further, Ratwatte reported that there
is a considerable amount of cross border interaction, a fact that
the Red Cross also noted. According to Ratwatte, the GOT is
concerned that the refugees may be receiving assistance to
"mobilize" from elements in Burundi. During a donor partner meeting
at UNHCR, Yacoub El Hillo, outgoing Representative, stated that FNL
member Pasteur Habimana's numerous visits are certainly a 'cause for
concern'. El Hillo suggested that some of the refugees may have
been promised roles in the Burundian government after the 2010
elections. However, El Hillo said these FNL visits are strictly
political in nature, not military. Ratwatte admitted that if the
civilian nature of the camp was compromised, there would be a
serious problem. Separately, MHA's Nzuki also raised the connection
between the Mtabila population and the FNL, suggesting that these
refugees are supporters of Agathon Rwasa and as such were awaiting
the outcome of the Burundian elections before returning home.

5. (SBU) During the meeting at the Ministry of Home Affairs, Nzuki
reiterated Tanzania's goal to be refugee free by the end of 2010.
He acknowledged that Congolese refugees will likely remain due to
the uptick of conflict in their area of origin. He highlighted that
the GOT, GOB, and UNHCR had discussed the Mtabila population during
the Tripartite meeting in June (ref b) and again at the Executive
Committee meeting in Geneva in September, at which time all parties

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agreed that the conditions in Burundi were satisfactory to allow for
repatriation. He further stated that the GOT had expressed its
desire for the cessation clause to be invoked as soon as possible.
Nzuki acknowledged the importance of following the necessary
procedures related to the cessation clause, which he said would be
in place by year-end. As part of this process, refugees with valid
claims to asylum would have their status reviewed. Queried as to
what would happen if the refugee status of this population is
revoked and the refugees choose not to return, Nzuki said unless
they had valid claims to asylum, they would have to apply for a
resident permit to remain in Tanzania.

6. (SBU) In an effort to encourage the remaining refugees in the
Mtabila camp to return home, Ratwatte said that UNHCR has enhanced
the incentive package by tripling the cash grants and expediting the
repatriation process. With regards to other efforts to encourage
the refugees to return home, ProgOff expressed concern about the
closure of the primary schools in the camp. Ratwatte explained that
the GOT had "officially closed" the camp and thus did not believe
such services should be provided. From the GOT's perspective, it is
not denying these children an education; their parents are doing so
by refusing to return to Burundi. Ratwatte said the Regional
Commissioner had been particularly adamant about this issue.
ProgOff emphasized that primary education is generally considered a
basic right and protection tool. Ratwatte agreed and said UNHCR
would reevaluate the situation in December. If the school closure
lasted more than three months, UNHCR would make a "serious demarche"
to the GOT.

7. (SBU) UNHCR also said it is following through with the steps
associated with the invocation of the cessation clause, having
recently completed the population survey in the Mtabila camp.
Further, it is developing a "road map" to guide the process.
However, UNHCR hopes to avoid a scenario in which this clause is
invoked. Ratwatte believes if UNHCR can persuade 15,000 refugees to
return to Burundi by the end of the year, it will be able to
negotiate with the GOT for additional time. If these refugees do
not return, then UNHCR will undertake the additional processes
required to invoke the cessation clause, such as the evaluation of
the conditions in Burundi and the establishment of a system for any
necessary individual status determinations. At this stage, UNHCR
hopes to persuade the GOT not to invoke the cessation clause
unilaterally. Ratwatte seemed confident that UNHCR will be able to
"get the space needed" to complete the cessation clause process
properly in the early part of 2010 if necessary. However, he noted
that if one refugee decides to make a claim for asylum, they all
will, resulting in a lengthy status determination process.

8. (SBU) UNHCR Tanzania is developing a contingency plan with its
counterparts in Burundi to prepare for the possibility of unilateral
Tanzanian invocation of the cessation clause and attempts to escort
the refugees back to Burundi. UNHCR has compiled information on the
origin of each refugee and would help the reception centers cope
with an influx. However, the key challenge would be to transport
the refugees to their home villages from the reception centers. If
the GOT unilaterally invokes the cessation clause, UNHCR would
stress to the GOT that these refugees should be returned in a humane
way and with the full agreement of GOB.

Nyarugusu Camp: Congolese Refugees Continue to Arrive
9. (SBU) Ratwatte reported that the relocation of all Congolese
refugees from the closed Lugufu camp to Nyarugusu camp was complete.
Nyarugusu has also been receiving a "trickle" of new arrivals each
day, with 500 new arrivals in the last thirty days. Based on
observations from his counterparts in the DRC, Ratwatte said it was
unclear if these are new arrivals to Tanzania or simply new arrivals
to the camp. There is some question as to whether some of these
individuals have been in Tanzania for some time, possibly having
been rejected from Lugufu. UNHCR is conducting in-depth interviews
to determine how and when these refugees arrived. If they are
indeed new arrivals, they will be screened by the National
Eligibility Committee. At present, they have not been granted
refugee status but are receiving assistance. Ratwatte cautioned
that they do not want to "open Pandora's box" by accepting these
Congolese without determining where and how they entered Tanzania.
(Note: MHA's Nzuki stated that the Regional Authorities in Kigoma
are reluctant to receive new arrivals.)

10. (SBU) Ratwatte acknowledged that UNHCR will need to reexamine

DAR ES SAL 00000758 003 OF 003

its strategy for the return of the Congolese refugees given the
problems in North and South Kivu. If military action ceases, UNHCR
would like to see the return of 15,000 Congolese (out of 61,000 now
in the camp). However, he said if the fighting continues in DRC,
these refugees will not return. Nzuki as well as the MFA noted that
GOT would live up to its international obligations vis-a-vis the DRC
refugees. Nzuki stated that the GOT is not promoting repatriation
to North or South Kivu. Red Cross officials noted that the
Nyarugusu camp is at capacity and suggested that if there were a
major influx of refugees from the DRC, another camp would need to be

Naturalization and Relocation of the 1972 Burundian Population
11. (SBU) While the repatriation of the 1972 Burundian refugees was
completed the week of October 26, the naturalization process
continues. UNHCR set up a citizen processing unit in Dar es Salaam
to facilitate the process and to date roughly 29,000 refugees have
been granted citizenship. Ratwatte noted that the Minister of Home
Affairs has committed to completing the naturalization process by
the end of the year.

12. (SBU) Although UNHCR is still working out the details of
relocation, Ratwatte did confirm that all the refugees would be
moved, with some remaining in the general vicinity of the
settlements. Based on an earlier UNHCR intentions survey, roughly
half of this population knew where they would like to go, while the
other half expressed no preference. UNHCR is in the process of
developing a relocation package for these refugees to include a cash
grant and certain non-food items. Further, it will consult with
regional authorities to determine what type of sectoral assistance
they need to absorb these groups, such as funding for schools and
clinics. The Minister of State for Regional Administration and
Local Government plans to host the Regional Commissioners from
several regions, including Morogoro and Mwanza, to discuss
integration. The regional authorities have set a two year timeframe
for local integration, which UNHCR estimates will cost USD 23
million in 2010 and USD 22 million in 2011.


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