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07BAGHDAD880 2007-03-13 05:46:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Baghdad
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1. (SBU) At march 7 meeting with KRG Interior Minister Karim
Sinjari, Regional Coordinator Yellin per reftel made the following
points re Palestinian refugees:

-- The Palestinian refugee population in Iraq has been singled out
for persecution by armed, violent elements in Iraqi society.

-- They had been granted asylum in Iraq by previous Iraqi
governments and remain entitled to the protection of the Iraqi

-- Under current conditions this may not be possible, and
neighboring states are not willing to accept Palestinians who seek
asylum out of Iraq.

-- UNHCR is willing to try to resettle Palestinian refugees outside
the region.

-- Processing can not be accomplished in the insecure environment of
Baghdad today. To even try might actually increase the threat to
the Palestinians.

-- The U.S. therefore requests that Palestinians now residing in
Baghdad be given temporary asylum in the Kurdish Region.

-- Given Kurdish security concerns, a controlled camp situation
would be acceptable, provided UNHCR is provided access. If that
were established, UNHCR would then initiate a program to screen
Palestinians for resettlement outside the region.

4. (SBU) In response, Sinjari:

-- Expressed both sympathy for the plight of the Palestinian
refugees and the KRG's desire to help, recalling that the Kurds had
been refugees themselves.

-- Pointed out that the KRG had accepted ten of thousands Iraqi
Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), and that more would certainly
follow. This influx had already stretched the KRG's resources in
many ways.

-- Indicated his personal view that accepting the refugees would
involve a serious security risk for the KRG.

-- Observed that a camp situation would not ameliorate his concerns
about terrorism. Camp residents would want to work in the community
and "we will not be able to control them."

-- Said he had been approached by UNHCR with this request two months
ago and that he had declined it.

5. (SBU) Sinjari said that In light of our formal demarche, he
would approach the KRG Council in Ministers and provide us with the
KRG's coordinated response.

6. (SBU) Comment: While Sinjari agreed to consider information
that might allay the KRG's concerns over security, his implied
answer was clearly no. This will be a tough sell in the KRG. Given
this negative answer from the KRG, whose agreement is necessary,
post has not raised the issue with the GOI in Baghdad.