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Cablegate: Palestinian Refugees in Iraq - Targeted Violence Down But

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FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6834
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 0016
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM 0088

UNCLAS BAGHDAD 000506

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR NSC SAMANTHA POWER AND SCOTT BUSBY

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREF PGOV PHUM PREL IZ
SUBJECT: PALESTINIAN REFUGEES IN IRAQ - TARGETED VIOLENCE DOWN BUT
HARASSMENT CONTINUES

1. (SBU) Summary: UNHCR reports that it has not seen an increase in
targeted violence against Palestinians in Iraq. It does report an
increase in: accounts of harassment at the many checkpoints found
throughout Iraq; reports of arbitrary and targeted detentions
following terrorist incidents in Baghdad and Mosul; and the number
of Palestinian refugees registering with UNHCR in Syria. UNHCR is
looking into indications of possible fraud and abuse in the Ministry
of Migration and Displacement (MoDM) administered UNHCR rental
subsidies program. UNHCR plans to improve its registration system,
counseling procedures and reporting mechanisms to better understand
and address the situation faced by Palestinians in Iraq. End
summary.

2. (U) UNHCR told Embassy Refugee Coordinator that there has not
been a report of targeted violence against Palestinians in Iraq in
at least the last nine months. UNHCR does report that it has
received increasing accounts of harassment at the many security
checkpoints found throughout Iraq. While UNHCR has been successful
in facilitating the issuance of national identification cards to
Palestinians, recipients report that they are harassed by GOI
officials and civilians when they present the identification cards
at checkpoints. It is thought that many continue to use fraudulent
Iraqi nationality documents to travel within the country. Likewise,
there has been an increase in reports of arbitrary targeted
detentions of Palestinians following terrorist incidents in Baghdad
and Mosul. UNHCR has repeatedly acted as an intermediary and been
successful in convincing the Ministry of Interior to release
Palestinians when there are no formal charges and little evidence
against them. They report that they can now facilitate the release
of detainees in 24 to 48 hours due to having the appropriate
contacts and procedures in place.

3. (U) UNHCR reports that there has been anecdotal evidence of more
Palestinians fleeing to Syria and continuing on to Turkey and Europe
through irregular means. There has been an increase in the number
of Palestinians registering with UNHCR in Syria although this may be
attributed to an increase in willingness to register not an increase
in number of refugees fleeing. There are very few Palestinians
trying to flee Baghdad for the Al Waleed refugee camp despite the
fact that the U.S. and European countries are resettling
approximately 1600 Palestinian refugees from the camp.

4. (SBU) Recognizing that there are gaps in its registration records
of Palestinians in Iraq, UNHCR plans to complete a thorough review
of its registration records in the coming months. The Senior
Protection Officer in Iraq said that UNHCR plans to interview more
thoroughly cases that were registered several years earlier to see
which still have durable solutions available to them in Iraq and
which should be referred for third-country resettlement. In the
hope of improving the counseling of Palestinians on their rights and
options, UNHCR is conducting more comprehensive training of its
national staff. While UNHCR has said that the vast majority of the
12,000 Palestinians living in Iraq should not be referred for
third-country resettlement, the process of identifying and referring
the most vulnerable cases has already started. This month the U.S.
accepted a resettlement referral for a Palestinian family living in
Baladiyat, Baghdad. The family has an eight year-old child who
QBaladiyat, Baghdad. The family has an eight year-old child who
suffered a head injury during a rocket attack on the predominantly
Palestinian neighborhood in 2006. The young boy received only
minimal treatment by the ill-equipped Red Crescent hospital in the
Palestinian refugee community and is now suffering serious medical
complications, including epilepsy, as a result. Following more
attacks, the family attempted to flee to Syria in 2007 but was
stopped at the border. They lived in the Al Waleed refugee camp on
the border for several months before returning to Baghdad.

5. (SBU) UNHCR acknowledged that it needs to more thoroughly monitor
and control the MoDM administered UNHCR rental subsidies program
that assists Palestinians. There are signs of irregularities in the
administration of the subsidies which may indicate possible fraud
and abuse. An increasing number of Palestinians report that they
were denied access to the program arbitrarily and others report that
they have not received the subsidy after completing the registration
process.

HILL

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