Cablegate: Iraq Refugees and Idps - Brookings Doha Conference

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E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (U) Summary: The November 18-19 Brookings conference "Regional
Perspectives on Iraqi Displacement" in Doha brought together
representatives of major donor countries, development agencies,
humanitarian players, and some regional representatives, but
suffered from the absence of any senior Government of Iraq (GOI)
officials or any officials from the Syrian government. Discussion
focused on the interplay between humanitarian and development
programs to address the needs of Iraq's displaced, with many
participants suggesting development partners such as the World Bank
had a role to play at an early stage. The U.S. delegation, led by
NSC Senior Director Samantha Power, emphasized that security and
national reconciliation would support early returns of displaced in
some places and not others, and that there is a need to fill gaps in
addressing the needs of vulnerable IDPs and to ensure their access
to GOI services. The U.S. also stressed the importance of Iraqi
leadership in future discussions on the subject. End Summary.

2. (U) The Brookings-Bern Project organized the conference with
support from the World Bank. Conference participants included
representatives of: The World Bank, UNHCR, the International
Organization for Migration (IOM), the International Committee of the
Red Cross (ICRC), Iraqi Council of Representatives Committee on
Displacement, the governments of Jordan, Qatar, Lebanon, Egypt,
Japan, Denmark, Switzerland, the European Union, Canada, and the
United States. NSC Senior Director Samantha Power headed the U.S.
delegation. Only one Iraqi government official, from the Ministry
of Interior, participated due to GOI reservations about both the
venue and the forum. Dr. Walter Kaelin, representative of the
Secretary-General on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced
Persons, participated, as did Brookings Vice President and Director
for Foreign Policy Ambassador Martin Indyk.

3. (U) Two papers were presented at the conference. The first, a
general overview of the issue prepared by the Brookings-Bern staff,
laid out general issues. It noted the need for better accuracy
regarding the number of displaced, especially refugees, and stressed
the need for greater engagement between humanitarian and development
actors in reaching durable solutions. The paper also suggested a
more regional approach to the issue, something that was not widely
endorsed at the conference. Another paper prepared by the
international organization for migration focused on the challenge of
sorting out legal property claims in Iraq. The paper cited progress
that had been made through the Commission for the Resolution of Real
Property Disputes in dealing with Saddam-era property claims. The
paper advocated accelerating this process, working to create a
better database of property claims resulting from conflict after
2003, making efforts to resolve disputes arising from the occupation
of public property, and addressing challenges posed by

4. (U) Iraqi parliament Displacement Committee Chairman Dr. Abddel
Khaliq Mohammad Rasheed Zangana provided an overview of displacement
in Iraq, including aspects of historical displacement and more
recent developments. He noted that various parties have political
interests in exaggerating the number of displaced. However, he
still estimated that there may be 2.0 million externally displaced
Iraqis and 2-3 million displaced inside the country. Zangana,
QIraqis and 2-3 million displaced inside the country. Zangana,
himself a former IDP, gave the government credit for taking certain
measures, including the institution of orders 101 and 262 that
provide for restitution of property and compensation to some
displaced families for their losses. He strongly recommended that
the GOI dedicate more resources to the displaced, including an
increase in returnee grants, now set at 1.0 million dinars, to 3-4
million dinars.

5. (U) World Bank representatives made two formal presentations at
the conference. They both focused on how to overcome the relief to
development gap. Both presentations emphasized the need to integrate
concerns for displaced people into existing development projects.
Reflecting on what the World Bank could bring to the issue, it was
noted that the Bank has a strong convening capacity to include both
governments and development actors. The representatives of the
World Bank also emphasized the importance of the Bank engaging early
in the process, with a focus on field activity. Finally, the World
Bank representatives urged development actors to become engaged even
at a time when security remains fluid.

6. (U) NSC Senior Director Power briefed the group on the results of
her just completed mission to Iraq. She noted that the Diyala
initiative demonstrated that there is the potential for returns
supported by improved security and national reconciliation in some
areas. However, her visit to Iraq's largest IDP cluster located in
Baghdad (Chikook) showed that in many cases security conditions may
not yet support returns and that alternate durable solutions will
need to be sought. Power also noted that there were important gaps

BAGHDAD 00003155 002 OF 002

in the delivery of services and the GOI would need to do more to
overcome practical impediments for Iraqi displaced seeking access to

7. (U) The U.S. delegation stressed the need for all future such
discussions to include government of Iraq leadership from the
beginning. There was general support for the idea that development
actors should engage early in addressing the needs presented by
displacement and that the displacement issue should be factored into
the national and donor development efforts.

8. (U) Dr. Walter Kaelin also provided his own summary of the
issues. Kaelin noted that the displacement of Iraqis is a complex
and chronic issue. While it is important to focus on recent
displacement, it is also necessary to seek solutions for
historically displaced individuals. He pointed to the October 2010
census as a potentially useful opportunity to get more accurate
figures on the number of displaced. However, he stressed that the
international community's approach to the displaced should be based
on needs, not numbers. Kaelin listed several steps that could help
improve the environment for returns and reintegration including:
ensuring that stipends are sufficient and the displaced have access
to them; addressing the needs of IDPs in settlements since they are
often the most vulnerable; putting in place systems to address
property restitution; integrating IDP's and return issues into
development plans; and efforts to overcome limitations on access for
humanitarian and development actors.

9. (SBU) Comment: Although the organizers had hoped that the
meeting might launch an effort to develop a regional plan for
dealing with Iraq's displaced, the absence of serious representation
from the Government of Iraq and any representation from the
government of Syria - host to the largest number of Iraqi refugees
in the world - made such an outcome impossible. Participants
nevertheless agreed to continue an exchange of information and views
on these issues.


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