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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
08AMMAN264 2008-01-24 14:17:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Amman
Cable title:  

STAFFDEL CAMMACK VIEWS IRAQIS IN JORDAN THROUGH

Tags:   PREF PGOV SOCI EAID IZ JO 
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VZCZCXRO0265
PP RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHIHL RUEHKUK
DE RUEHAM #0264/01 0241417
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 241417Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY AMMAN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1593
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEAHLC/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA PRIORITY 0639
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 05 AMMAN 000264 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

FOR NEA, PRM, AND AMBASSADOR FOLEY
FOR DHS LORI SCIALABBA
FOR H/PASS TO CAMMACK AND WAXMAN

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/24/2018
TAGS: PREF PGOV SOCI EAID IZ JO
SUBJECT: STAFFDEL CAMMACK VIEWS IRAQIS IN JORDAN THROUGH
UNHCR'S EYES

REF: A. AMMAN 4790


B. AMMAN 4738

Classified By: Ambassador David Hale for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)



1. (C) Summary: During their January 6-7 visit to Amman,
Staffdel Cammack (Senate Committee staff members Perry
Cammack and Sharon Waxman) visited with senior GOJ officials
and were shepherded though Amman by UNHCR, which gave them
open access to its registration office, community centers,
medical clinics, and the homes of Iraqis. They heard from
the Ambassador, UNHCR, NGOs and Iraqi themselves that
legalization of status for Iraqi refugees remains a key
outstanding issue. The Minister of Planning highlighted the
GOJ's USD 1.5 billion supplemental request for assistance
before Congress, and the Staffdel urged the GOJ to quickly
get more active in raising awareness on the Hill. Jordanian
General Intelligence Department (GID) officials lauded their
partnership with the UN and described outstanding security
concerns. UNHCR's regional resettlement chief implored the
U.S. to resettle more Iraqis in 2008 and highlighted their
key areas of concern: USG commitment of resources to
processing, political commitment to refugees, and flexibility
in addressing vulnerable cases and processing waivers. IOM's
leadership told Cammack and Waxman that they expected to meet
Jordan's portion of the announced 12,000 resettlement target.
UNHCR Jordan suggested that better coordination would allow
the donor community to leverage health resources and to
address still-unmet chronic health care needs. End Summary.

Legalizing the Status of Iraqis in Jordan


--------------------------





2. (C) On January 6, GID officials described to the Staffdel
the legal framework of the 1998 UNHCR-GOJ Memorandum of
Understanding (MOU), but acknowledged that they "bend the
rules" and turn a "blind eye" (e.g. when registered Iraqis do
not depart within six months, as stipulated in the MOU).
During the Staffdel's subsequent meeting with Minister of
Planning Suhair al Ali, the Ambassador emphasized that legal
status remains an impediment to Iraqis accessing services.
For Iraqis to benefit from the substantial donor assistance,
the Ambassador said that they must be able to step forward
within the Jordanian legal framework. Separately, UNHCR
Jordan Representative Imran Riza described the current policy
as "tolerated illegality".



3. (SBU) During the Staffdel's home visits and briefings with
UNHCR, staff and case workers described an Iraqi population
that is despondent and frustrated with its situation in
Jordan. According to NGOs and UNHCR, some Iraqis have left
Amman for rural areas where they find it easier to live and
work (illegally). A single Iraqi female they met during a
home visit admitted she works illegally as a wedding
photographer but often passes up jobs in the evening for fear
of what her neighbors might think and report to the
authorities.



4. (SBU) Save the Children's Country Director bluntly told
the delegation that "legal status is the issue now." Several
NGOs reported that "perception is reality" when it comes to
deportation - while they can count few documented cases,
families still fear deportation which affects their mentality
and ability to access services. Other NGOs reported that
Jordanian students who bully or harass Iraqi schoolchildren
use the threat of deportation to discourage Iraqis from
reporting such harassment. A focus group of Iraqis drove
their point home when they expressed directly to the
delegation their fear of deportation.



5. (SBU) Country Directors of Save the Children and CARE
suggested to Staffdel that the USG could leverage its
recently announced increase of baseline ESF assistance to
push the envelope on legal status. Without the right to
work, they argued donors will continue to pay to support
Iraqis. Meanwhile, they claimed that the dwindling assets of
Iraqis in Jordan will lead to increasing desperation. They
suggested the possibility of floating a guest worker program
akin to those benefiting Egyptians and South Asian workers.



6. (C) UNHCR's Riza said that he sees an upcoming window of
opportunity to discuss status issues with the GOJ and
leverage their increased assistance. Riza believed the GOJ
might be amenable to granting amnesty to those in illegal
status and waiving overstay fines, though he discounted the
possibility of employment for Iraqis in Jordan. UNHCR may

AMMAN 00000264 002 OF 005


push for permission to use Iraqi volunteers (who would
receive a stipend) in its outreach and assistance programs,
and hopes the GOJ will continue to be pragmatic and
practical. In the long term, UNHCR wants to adapt its MOU
and support national asylum legislation, and is scouring
European countries for comparable examples of limited asylum
frameworks that could serve as models for Jordan.

Expanding Assistance to Jordan


--------------------------





7. (C) In a January 6 briefing, Minister of Planning Suhair
Al Ali described for the Staffdel the significant budgetary
challenges facing the GOJ in 2008 - including the highly
unpopular elimination of fuel subsidies. Ali described the
social safety net the GOJ hopes will protect Jordanians
through salary increases and greater contributions to health
and education systems, but that even without subsidies they
face a 9.1% budget deficit before grants. Ali described
their "alarming" reliance on energy imports (96%) which the
GOJ will continue to finance through the capital account
while working towards diversification, energy conversation,
and alternate sources of energy (shale oil, wind, nuclear).
While poverty levels are improving, Ali cited the continuing
challenge of the yet-unpublished figure of 13.5% of
Jordanians who live on less than two dollars per day.



8. (SBU) Ali described the GOJ's "medium-term" assistance
requests for its "temporary guests," citing FAFO numbers (ref
B) that she believes suggest Iraqis will stay indefinitely in
Jordan. Ali raised the December GOJ supplemental request
(ref A) for USD 500 million per year for the next two years
to accommodate the increased burden of Iraqis on Jordan's
budget. Staffdel Cammack was unaware of this request, and
urged Ali and the GOJ to expediently reach out to members of
the House and Senate.

Registration, Resettlement and Returns


--------------------------





9. (SBU) UNHCR staff described for the Staffdel recent
efforts to devote additional resources to renewals - now
three days per week with two days of registration. UNHCR
also announced its new telephone information hotline that
provides information on resettlement and available services.
They also told the Staffdel about a pilot database of
non-registered Iraqis who use UNHCR-funded services to
improve their data about Iraqis in Jordan, identify cases for
resettlement, and inform future programming. Despite these
efforts, and highlighting the continued strength of the rumor
mill in shaping perceptions, several Iraqis insisted to the
Staffdel that UNHCR maintains a stack of old cases locked in
a room to which no one has a key.



10. (C) UNHCR's Beirut-based senior regional officer
responsible for admissions, Arafat Jamal, offered a frank
assessment and wish-list for USG actions in the coming year.
He described the U.S. response as disappointing, and "not
commensurate with the scale" of the humanitarian crisis in
Iraq. Jamal chastised the U.S. for having only temporary
refugee coordinators at Embassy Amman and for what he termed
its "business as usual" approach to this refugee situation.
He identified an 11,000 person discrepancy between UNHCR's
regional referrals and those that have thus far been admitted
to the U.S.. Jamal also pushed for increased flexibility of
the "credible fear" standard during interviews, suggested
that this could be overcome by unspecified "other means" and
noted that the standards employed by DHS adjudicators in
other refugee situations were not as "grueling."
Specifically, Jamal requested the following in 2008:
-a more muscular USG response in terms of financial and
personnel resources to recognize the Iraqi refugee crisis as
a top priority; Jamal said that 12,000 admissions would be
better than last year - but still "not much."
- a greater meshing of political and humanitarian goals to
free up departures, suggesting that embassies in Amman and
Beirut could do more with the host governments to speed
departures. Note: In Jordan, the UNHCR-MOI process for
waiving overstay fines and receiving permission to depart
takes only one week. End Note.
- more consideration of UNHCR-designated vulnerabilities that
may not fit squarely into the credible fear criteria (e.g.,
women at risk).
- efforts by the USG to address the protection issues of
smaller refugee populations in Iraq (e.g. Sudanese,
Palestinians, Iranian Kurds).

AMMAN 00000264 003 OF 005





11. (SBU) Jamal did not expect that repatriation to Iraq
would be a significant policy option in 2008 "no matter what
happens on the ground." Riza interjected, noting that "one
can only leverage departures once they're up and running".
UNHCR Jordan's resettlement team admitted that they sometimes
do not refer vulnerable cases to the USG because they expect
other countries might view them more broadly. Once a case
has been rejected by the U.S., they said, it reduces the
likelihood of resettlement by another country. They also
expressed concern that extended families will not depart
Jordan if any individual member of the extended family is not
approved for the USRAP, citing the case of a 78-year old
grandmother who was denied resettlement, causing the other
dozen members to remain with her in Amman. UNHCR Jordan's
senior protection officer praised DHS interviewers as
"generous with their time" and for generally granting
material support waivers, but identified the outstanding
issue of solicitation of mater
ial support as a continuing (and unfair in their opinion)
challenge.



12. (SBU) Staffdel Cammack toured IOM's refugee processing
facility on January 6 and met with Philip Eanes, the Deputy
Director and Kamel Irani, the Acting Country Director. Eanes
reported recent USRAP approval numbers: 72 per cent
approvals, 16 per cent denials and 12 per cent on hold
(mostly pending waiver on additional documentation requests).
Eanes also discussed efforts to move approximately 20
Baghdad LES from Syria to Amman where they will be
interviewed during the next DHS circuit ride, which begins on
January 16. When asked if IOM could meet the USG's announced
goal of 12,000 resettled Iraqis, Eanes replied that the
resources were in place and if we didn't reach the goal in
Amman, "we'd go down trying." He estimated that 5,000 to
6,000 Iraqis could be processed out of Jordan in 2008, but
that processing would need to occur throughout the region for
the overall goal to be achieved. Staffdel Cammack questioned
whether DHS should maintain a permanent presence in Amman, to
which Eanes responded that the circuit ride system allows IOM
time to gear up and prepare large batches of cases, though he
noted the utility of a permanent DHS staff presence to
fingerprint interviewees.



13. (SBU) UNHCR Jordan's resettlement officers highlighted
the broader pool of needs in Syria, both in terms of quantity
and vulnerability - and suggested that the answer this year
simply cannot be "we can't get a visa." If visa troubles
persist, they suggested the U.S. develop creative solutions
such as transiting referrals through a third country (e.g.,
Romania) or using video conference. In 2007, UNHCR staff
said that they took part in "the numbers game" and admitted
that they may have sacrificed some of the protection needs
for the greater good of boosting numbers. In 2008, they
claimed they intend to devote greater resources to screening
cases for greater protection needs.



14. (SBU) Staffdel Cammack inquired about the prospect of
Iraqis returning to Iraq from Jordan. UNHCR noted that they
observed very few. STC's Country Director suggested that
"not yet" best described Iraqi attitudes towards return,
while International Relief and Development (IRD) - currently
in the midst of a survey of Iraqis - claimed that most Iraqis
say they left because of personal safety and security
concerns. According to IRD's ongoing survey, Iraqis say that
improvements in security must be sustained in Iraq before
they will consider return as a serious option. UNHCR Iraq's
Marco Roggio reiterated the UN commitment not to encourage
return until they are assured conditions warrant the return.
They are, however, committed to assisting voluntary returns.

Security Threats Persist; Improved UNHCR-GOJ relations


--------------------------



--------------------------





15. (C) In their meeting with the Staffdel, Jordanian General
Intelligence Department (GID) officials illustrated the
continued security challenges that they believe Iraqis in
Jordan pose. They recalled the November 2005 hotel bombings,
several foiled plots against the Karameh border post, and
their evaluation that a number of Iraqis present in Jordan
are Iranian intelligence assets. GID officers noted that
they frequently uncover fake identity documents, some of
which are actually issued by the GOI. They noted their
appreciation for USG border assistance and training. Working
level GID officials told Staffdel Cammack that the GOJ
cooperates closely with UNHCR, which they now believe

AMMAN 00000264 004 OF 005


understands the challenges the GOJ faces. GID officers also
noted how important they believe it is that the international
community "share its burden" with regard to Iraqi refugees.



16. (C) For its part, Riza reported that "the level of (GOJ)
frustration stabilized this year because UNHCR provided more
assistance." He described UNHCR's two-person detention team
by which it liaises with the MOI and GID. Generally, HCR
said that they get good access to detained Iraqis, especially
when they have asylum-seeker certificates. Most Iraqis who
are detained are released. When asked why they're detained
in the first place, they responded that some are accused of a
crime (often forgery of documents) or are attempting to
convert others to Shi'a Islam. In cases of criminal charges,
nearly none are actually prosecuted - those cases would be
more likely to be deported.

Speaking to Iraqis themselves


--------------------------





17. (SBU) Anger, frustration, and fear dominated the
conversations the Staffdel had with focus groups of Iraqis on
January 7. "Give us status or send us elsewhere," one
lamented. Others noted that from 1981 to 1990, Iraq allowed
more than 7 million Egyptians as well as millions of other
Pakistanis, Indians, Palestinians and Sudanese to work in
Iraq. Given this long history, they suggested that other
governments in the region (namely Egypt) have not treated
them fairly. They generally said they understand that Jordan
is not a rich country, but believe that they, as Iraqi
citizens, have rights to the oil revenue being generated in
their country, and wanted to see their embassy provide
stipends. Others complained that they had assets, especially
property in Iraq, which they are unable to sell. Rather,
they rely on remittances from family and stipends from NGOs.
Several Iraqis complained that international organizations
are trying to solve the little problems but ignoring the main
issues - e.g., status and their inability to work. Many said
they felt that nobody listens to them. And during one home
visit, a Shi'a widow claimed her 12-year old daughter was
harassed by her teacher for her religious beliefs and sent
home; she has since refused to return.

Heavy demand for primary health care,
expensive and unmet secondary needs


--------------------------





18. (SBU) On January 7, Staffdel Cammack visited a Caritas
operated clinic in East Amman that opened in April 2007.
Clinic staff identified secondary and tertiary chronic
diseases as the greatest outstanding needs. The clinic,
composed of three general practitioners and a dentist,
operates on a USD 2.3 million budget and has served 33,000
patients. Caritas operated three other clinics: in Zarqa,
Jebel Al-Weibdeh, and Jebel Amman. The largest (in East
Amman) can see up to 250 persons per day and the others can
serve 50-100 people per day. Out of approximately 4,000
cases per month, doctors estimate between 50 to 100 are
cancer patients and in need of expensive care they generally
cannot afford to provide. They also noted a high prevalence
of psychiatric disorders compounded by fear, feelings of
intolerance, frustration and instability, and an increase in
domestic violence.



19. (SBU) Caritas staff believed that Iraqis prefer their
clinics to MOH-operated public health facilities because they
receive better, more personalized attention and the clinics
are less crowded and offer shorter wait times. Iraqis
agreed, saying they prefer private healthcare to public,
where they fear they won't get the attention they deserve.
Other Iraqis met during the course of a home visit said that
they were afraid to use public hospitals because they would
be experimented on by uncaring GOJ doctors. UNHCR's case
workers noted that the current UNHCR-MOH agreement excludes
emergency obstetrics care. They also reported that outside
of Amman, more mainstreaming of public health care is
happening.



20. (SBU) UNHCR's Riza said that UNHCR can do a better job in
2008 of leveraging its assistance, for instance in health
care. After three attempts, UNHCR inked an $11 million
agreement with the MoH in 2007, and Riza suggested that it
can and should get more for their money. If the USG and
other donors continue to support MoH through bilateral aid,
Riza suggested they develop a better donor coordination
mechanism on health care.

AMMAN 00000264 005 OF 005



Internally Displaced Persons


--------------------------





21. (SBU) UNHCR-Iraq's Roggia briefed on UNHCR Iraq's efforts
to assist internally displaced persons (IDPs). In 2007,
UNHCR spent $28 million; in 2008, it intends to budget $45
million. Roggia said that Special Representative of the
Secretary-General Mistura is looking to establish rapid

SIPDIS
response mechanisms to provide immediate assistance to
returnees, and noted the recent efforts of Iraq's MODM to
become an "operational" ministry by purchasing food stuffs
and non-food items for distribution. According to Roggia,
approximately 63 per cent of the returnees in November were
IDPs and 37 per cent were refugees, primarily from Syria.
UNHCR Iraq's staff observed a number of test visits where a
male family member returned and, said that if conditions
allowed, the family intended to follow. Roggia described the
security situation as "unquestionably better" in some parts
of Baghdad, but wondered whether it was sustainable. He
expressed their concern that the GOI might begin to pressure
Iraqi refugees and IDPs to
return, and expected to be approached shortly by Iraqi Prime
Minister or MODM to participate in GOI information campaigns.
He said that UNHCR remains hesitant to do so for fear they
would be perceived as prematurely encouraging returns.
Roggia also stressed the finite absorption capacity of the
receiving communities, many of which have not yet been
rebuilt.



22. (U) Staffdel Cammack did not have the opportunity to
review this cable prior to their departure.


Visit Amman's Classified Web Site at
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/nea/amman/

Hale