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WikiLeaks: 2008-04-11: 08PARIS687: Senior Coordinator for Iraqi Refugees Foley meets with French MFA Officials, 31 March 2008

by WikiLeaks. 08PARIS687: April 11, 2008.

Posted: Sunday, September 08, 2013 at 12:22 PM UT


Viewing cable 08PARIS687, SENIOR COORDINATOR FOR IRAQI REFUGEES FOLEY MEETS

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Reference ID Created Classification Origin
08PARIS687 2008-04-11 15:48 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Paris
VZCZCXRO0147
PP RUEHAG RUEHDF RUEHIK RUEHLZ RUEHROV
DE RUEHFR #0687/01 1021548
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 111548Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY PARIS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2577
INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES
RUEHAD/AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI 0228
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN 1140
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA 0905
RUEHGB/AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD 0048
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT 0552
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO 1126
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 1780
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS 0345
RUEHDO/AMEMBASSY DOHA 0178
RUEHKU/AMEMBASSY KUWAIT 0203
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 6877
RUEHMK/AMEMBASSY MANAMA 0183
RUEHMS/AMEMBASSY MUSCAT 0097
RUEHOT/AMEMBASSY OTTAWA 2241
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 1491
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 2700
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS 2263
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 2855
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 PARIS 000687 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PREF PREL PHUM FR IZ JO SY LE
SUBJECT: SENIOR COORDINATOR FOR IRAQI REFUGEES FOLEY MEETS 
FRENCH MFA OFFICIALS, 31 MARCH 2008 
 
REF: STATE 30028 
 
1.  (SBU)  Summary:  French MFA officials told Senior 
Coordinator for Iraqi Refugees James Foley on March 31 that 
France expects to receive perhaps 500 Iraqi refugees this 
year via UNHCR referrals in Jordan and Syria as well as 
processed directly by the French embassy in Baghdad. 
Defining criteria for these and other refugees remains 
problematic, however, as the French seek to balance pressure 
from French religious groups to favor Christian Iraqis with 
an ingrained tendency to apply an approach focusing on those 
at greatest risk, who have existing ties to France, or who 
would most easily integrate once resettled.  Although FM 
Kouchner intends to raise the refugee issue at the April 22 
Iraq neighbors meeting in Kuwait, the response from this 
group of MFA officials was tepid to the idea of increasing 
bilateral assistance to refugees in the region and skeptical 
in terms of increased EU assistance in the near term.  End 
summary 
 
2.  (SBU)  Senior Coordinator for Iraqi Refugees James Foley 
met with French MFA officials March 31 to discuss French 
policy for dealing with Iraqi refugees and to request French 
help in terms of increased bilateral and EU assistance for 
Iraqi refugees in the region.  French FM Kouchner's adviser 
for crisis and humanitarian situations Eric Chevallier was 
unable to attend at the last minute.  Kouchner's adviser on 
NEA affairs Christophe Bigot led the meeting on the French 
side accompanied by deputy director of the IO bureau 
equivalent Marc Giacomini and Iraq desk officer Olivier 
Masseret.  PolMinCouns and poloff joined Foley on the U.S. 
side. 
 
3.  (SBU)  Bigot started by saying that France expected to 
receive perhaps 500 Iraqi refugees this year, including 100 
from Jordan and Syria that France has already accepted based 
on UNHCR referrals and 400 others drawn from refugee 
populations in Jordan and Syria as well as Iraqis processed 
by their embassy in Baghdad.  (Comment:  The MFA, when later 
pressed for a more precise breakdown, including whether 
Christians would be favored, declined to do so.  End comment) 
 He explained the difficulty France has faced in defining 
criteria for accepting refugees, noting that the GOF has 
tended to favor refugees likely to integrate well into French 
society, i.e., due to their language ability, the likelihood 
they would find gainful employment, and family ties. 
Giacomini added that the GOF and UNHCR had disagreed about 
the applicability of the 1951 convention on refugees to many 
who had fled to Jordan and Syria, with the net result that 
France had agreed so far only to receive about 100.  Masseret 
said that the French embassy in Baghdad, because of personnel 
and security-related constraints, was focusing exclusively on 
those cases in which the applicants were "especially 
threatened," had ties to France, and a demonstrated French 
language ability.  He suggested that the eventual opening of 
the embassy office in Irbil could facilitate increased 
processing in-country. 
 
4.  (SBU)  Bigot underscored continuing French concerns about 
singling out certain categories over others.  This inevitably 
raised the "problematic" of the Chaldean Christians.  He said 
the GOF has heard arguments that the Chaldean community was 
"more or less" vulnerable but found these claims hard to 
evaluate definitively, even in the wake of the kidnapping and 
murder earlier this year of the Chaldean archbishop of Mosul. 
 Bigot referred to pressure on the GOF by Christian groups in 
France to help the Chaldeans and other Christian communities 
in the Middle East. 
 
5.  (SBU)  Foley provided an overview of USG efforts 
vis-a-vis resettlement in the U.S. as well as helping the 
 
PARIS 00000687  002 OF 003 
 
 
UNHCR and other international agencies/NGOs in the field cope 
with the sizable refugee populations in neighboring 
countries.  He contrasted the infrastructure in place to 
receive refugees in Jordan and Syria with Lebanon, where 
until recently Iraqi refugees were faced with the choice of 
repatriation or imprisonment.  When Giacomini asked about 
International Organization for Migration efforts to help 
resettle returning refugees in "safe zones" inside Iraq, 
Foley answered that the USG supports IOM and UNHCR efforts on 
behalf of returnees but is not currently encouraging refugees 
to return given the uncertainty of the security situation. 
Foley reviewed U.S. refugee resettlement efforts, noting that 
we had already admitted nearly 3000 of the 12,000 authorized 
for FY 2008.  This follows 1600 admitted in 2007.  He also 
recounted the history of our refugee processing efforts in 
Syria, which have been hampered by the difficult state of 
U.S./Syrian relations. 
 
6.  (SBU)  Turning to the rationale for his latest trip to 
the Middle East and Europe, Foley explained that he was 
encouraging donor countries to respond to the estimated USD 
900 million needed this year to deal with the Iraqi refugee 
situation (per reftel, which embassy had already passed to 
the MFA).  UNHCR alone privately estimates it will need 
nearly double the amount of its USD 261 million regional 
appeal for Iraqi refugees.  Foley spoke of a worsening 
humanitarian situation, especially in Syria and Jordan, and 
the unusual aspects of this refugee crisis, which involved a 
middle class population living not in camps but in urban 
areas.  This makes it harder to count, track, and care for 
the refugees.  Many are inexorably becoming impoverished as 
they exhaust savings and because of limitations on their 
ability to work in the host countries.  Foley underscored the 
potential risk of instability to the hosting countries and to 
Iraq should the refugees be forced to return home.  In Syria 
alone, the UNHCR expects a doubling of daily food assistance 
from 150,000 to 300,000 persons. 
 
7.  (SBU)  Convincing the Gulf states to increase or even 
offer assistance has been a challenge, Foley continued.  Many 
of those governments opposed the 2003 war or have strained 
relations with the current Iraqi government.  They believe 
the GOI should be able to do more itself with its oil 
revenues.  We hope that the increasing urgency of the 
situation may motivate at least some of the wealthy Arab 
states to contribute despite their misgivings about the 
Maliki government.  Foley noted our concern as well about the 
EU response, which may in part be due to inaccurate 
information about the refugee situation.  The EU contributed 
66 million euros last year, and we hope that will be 
increased.  In that context, we would welcome French support 
for increased EU assistance in addition to any further 
bilateral assistance it could contribute. 
 
8.  (SBU)  When Bigot asked whether we wanted to see the EU 
maintain its current level, Foley rejoined that we frankly 
hoped to see the EU increase substantially its current level 
of aid.  Giacomini argued there was little current fiscal 
room for maneuver in terms of French bilateral assistance 
(currently one million euros for Iraqi refugees via UNHCR). 
He pointed to other pressing needs at the moment like Chad. 
Giacomini and Bigot said France would consult with RELEX and 
ECHO, but there were budget problems across the board in 
Europe among EU member states that will make any increase 
problematic. 
 
9.  (SBU)  Foley expressed appreciation for France,s help 
and engagement on this issue, underscoring its importance to 
the Secretary.  He repeated concerns about how the refugee 
situation potentially threatened regional stability as well 
as security conditions inside Jordan and Syria.  This had 
 
PARIS 00000687  003 OF 003 
 
 
terrorism and other potential implications.  The USG would 
welcome France using its weight in Brussels to obtain more 
financial assistance.  Foley also suggested that assistance 
to refugees was a natural area where the GOF could realize 
its desire to contribute on Iraq matters. Bigot concluded 
that Kouchner is very aware of the situation and is likely to 
raise it at the upcoming Iraq neighbors conference in Kuwait. 
 
10.  (U)  Ambassador Foley cleared this cable. 
 
Please visit Paris' Classified Website at: 
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/paris/index.c fm 
 
 
STAPLETON

 



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