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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
09BAGHDAD1359
2009-05-25 12:14:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Baghdad
Cable title:  

ICRC DISCUSSES DETAINEES, MASS GRAVES, AND THE MEK

Tags:   PHUM  KREF  KJUS  IO  IZ 
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VZCZCXRO2090
OO RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHDH RUEHIHL RUEHKUK
DE RUEHGB #1359/01 1451214
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 251214Z MAY 09
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3183
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE
						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BAGHDAD 001359 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/24/2019
TAGS: PHUM KREF KJUS IO IZ
SUBJECT: ICRC DISCUSSES DETAINEES, MASS GRAVES, AND THE MEK
WITH AMBASSADOR

REF: A. BAGHDAD 377

B. BAGHDAD 797

Classified By: Ambassador Christopher R. Hill for reason 1.4 (d).

-------
Summary
-------

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BAGHDAD 001359

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/24/2019
TAGS: PHUM KREF KJUS IO IZ
SUBJECT: ICRC DISCUSSES DETAINEES, MASS GRAVES, AND THE MEK
WITH AMBASSADOR

REF: A. BAGHDAD 377

B. BAGHDAD 797

Classified By: Ambassador Christopher R. Hill for reason 1.4 (d).

--------------
Summary
--------------


1. (C) In a May 19 meeting with the Ambassador and the
Embassy's Senior Coordinator for Refugees, ICRC Head of Iraq
Delegation Juan Pedro Schaerer provided an overview of the
ICRC's activities in Iraq and praised the close cooperation
between the organization and the Embassy. Schaerer
highlighted the slow progress being made on mass grave
identification and excavation within Iraq and the ICRC's
efforts to increase the GOI's capacity in this area.
Schaerer commended the close working relationship ICRC has
developed with Multi-National Force-Iraq (MNF-I) on the
release and transfer of detainees, noting that MNF-I
detention operations were "definitely coming to an end." He
noted that the Iraqi Red Crescent Society (IRCS) has the
"potential" to accomplish much good in Iraq, and emphasized
the need for the IRCS not to split into two organizations,
one Iraqi and one Kurd. Finally, Schaerer commented that
there is "no good solution" to the Mujahedin e-Khalq (MEK)
situation, but that Camp Ashraf residents are slowly
realizing that their time in Iraq is coming to an end. End
Summary.


2. (C) ICRC Head of Iraq Delegation Juan Pedro Schaerer and
Protection Coordinator Laurent Saugy met on May 19 with the
Ambassador to discuss the scope of ICRC's activities in Iraq.
Schaerer reviewed the challenges faced by the organization's
Iraq operation, including attacks on its Baghdad office and
the 2005 murder of a staff member, which prompted the group's
relocation to Amman. Schaerer was hopeful that ICRC's Iraq
delegation would soon again be based permanently in Baghdad,
and pointed out that there are currently more than 90
international delegates and over 500 ICRC staff members
working in every province and major city in Iraq.

--------------
Slow Progress on Mass Graves
--------------


3. (C) Schaerer was concerned at the slow progress on
Iraq's identification, excavation and repatriation of remains

in mass graves. He noted that there have been "very few
results" over the past two years; specifically, out of 1,431
total cases presented from the 1990-1991 Gulf War, 550
Kuwaiti remains have been positively identified. The
Ambassador expressed concern at this lack of progress,
especially given the international community's resources and
experience in this area. Schaerer noted the assistance and
training being provided by the International Committee for
Missing Persons (ICMP), but was troubled by the lack of
communication among various GOI ministries involved in the
project. (Note: ICMP is a DRL and United Nations Assistance
Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) grantee. End note.). Resolving the
remaining cases, located in four or five sites, is do-able,
but will require additional GOI efforts. Schaerer noted that
over 50,000 people remain missing from the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq
War and an additional 30,000 are unaccounted for since the
U.S. 2003 invasion. He was worried that this is "not a
priority" for the GOI, and despite the best efforts of the
Ministry of Human Rights, it lacks the capacity to tackle a
project of this scale.

--------------
Shifting the Focus to GOI-Held Detainees
--------------


4. (C) On detainees, Schaerer praised the much-improved
relationship between ICRC and MNF-I. While the two
organizations may not always agree with one another, he
applauded the "open and constructive way" in which they
Qapplauded the "open and constructive way" in which they
discussed the release and transfer of USG-held detainees. He
also stated that ICRC would be shifting its focus to visiting
GOI facilities and GOI-held detainees, now that MNF-I
detention operations were "winding down." The Ambassador
applauded the ICRC for its work on detainee issues,
especially the humanitarian assistance it provides. Schaerer
noted how the IRCS worked with MNF-I on releasing detainees
in Ninewa and appears set to resume this cooperation. While
this is unlikely to be replicated in other provinces, he
viewed it as a positive development for the organization.
In his view, IRCS has the potential to increase its capacity
in Iraq, but he was concerned that the recent indications
that the three IRCS branches in Kurdistan seek to separate
from the IRCS would splinter Iraq's only nationwide
humanitarian organization. Schaerer said that ICRC had

BAGHDAD 00001359 002 OF 002


informed the Kurdish branches that under the rules of the Red
Cross/Red Crescent Movement, there could be only one national
society.

-------------- --------------
ICRC Commends Embassy Efforts in Dealing with the MEK
-------------- --------------


5. (C) Regarding the MEK defectors/Camp Ashraf issue,
Schaerer was satisfied with the Embassy's procuring of
humanitarian assurances from the GOI prior to the official
handover of authority last January. Schaerer complimented
the way in which the GOI has thus far handled the situation,
noting that there was "no good solution" to the problem. MEK
members, he believes, are slowly coming to the realization
that they may have to leave the camp. The group's
leadership, based in Paris, is "not pleased" that ICRC
continues to focus its efforts on the protection of
individuals as opposed to pressuring the GOI to permit
residents to remain at Camp Ashraf, while Iran "just wants
the camp closed." (Note: Camp Ashraf is located in Diyala
province, approximately 120 miles west of the Iran-Iraq
border. End note.).

--------------
Increased Capacity at the Ministry of Health
--------------


6. (C) Schaerer discussed ICRC's relief work, involving
delivery of food and medical supplies, including the support
of 22 general hospitals in Iraq. While the organization
previously was forced to deal directly with each facility,
over the past 18 months it has steadily increased its
reliance on the Ministry of Health to perform this role.
ICRC continues to provide emergency training for medical
professionals in Iraq, and currently has teams in Najaf and
Sulaymaniyah. Schaerer viewed as positive the GOI's
increased requests for training and capacity building and
fewer demands for materials.
HILL