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06RABAT630 2006-04-07 14:13:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Rabat
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1. (SBU) Over lunch March 30, UNHCR Head of Office Johannes
Van der Klaauw told Polcouns that he remained optimistic at
UNHCR's capacity to resettle abroad several hundred
individuals in Morocco whom UNHCR had determined to be
refugees. Following the visit of Cairo-based refugee
coordinator (Ref A), Van der Klaauw said he had received some
signs of interest from the Spanish in resettling additional
refugees, and the French had agreed to take one case -- an
80-year-old Iraqi man who has lived in Morocco since the
1980s. Apart from that, he had not had a strong response to
his pitch to the diplomatic community in Rabat on March 6.
He was clearly hoping the US would take the bulk of the
caseload. In the meantime, he was pleased that fewer
would-be refugees were showing up at UNHCR's office in Rabat;
the word seemed to be getting out, particularly among
Nigerians, that not many were qualifying (comment: we no
longer see the long lines outside of UNHCR's office, located
near the embassy, that we saw several months ago).

2. (SBU) Van der Klaauw commented that he also hoped to
organize training in handling of refugees and migrants for
Moroccan security forces. He said there is not systematic
abuse of migrants in Morocco, but he does not believe that
Moroccan security forces, particularly on the frontier,
understand that those whom the UN has recognized as refugees
cannot be abused. Security forces are not respecting UN
documents, he said. Van der Klaauw says UNHCR advises
migrants to stay away from Morocco's international borders
for their own security.

3. (SBU) Van der Klaauw said he is working on a letter of
agreement to regularize UNHCR's relations with the Moroccan
government as a prerequisite for starting up the resettlement

4. (SBU) Returning to the issue of migrants, Van der Klaauw
expressed concern that the problems of last fall, in which
hundreds of migrants stormed the barrier fences separating
Morocco from two Spanish enclaves in the north, could be
repeated, though the numbers might be smaller. He understood
from NGOs that work in northern Moroccan that migrants
continued to gather in the forests in preparation for trying
to get into Europe.

5. (SBU) Van der Klaauw noted that UNHCR would attend the
regional migration conference, to be held in Rabat in July,
as an observer, along with the World Bank, UNDP, and IOM. He
regretted that Algeria had declined to participate in the
conference (Ref B), saying Algeria's absence would lessen the
effectiveness of the conference. Polcouns said the US
concurred and hoped Algeria would change its mind.
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