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WikiLeaks: 2009-03-27: 09BEIRUT359: UNHCR Representative Upbeat on Iraqi Refugees in Lebanon

by WikiLeaks. 09BEIRUT359: March 27, 2009.

Posted: Monday, December 30, 2013 at 07:07 PM UT


Viewing cable 09BEIRUT359, LEBANON: UNHCR REPRESENTATIVE UPBEAT ON IRAQI

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Reference ID Created Classification Origin
09BEIRUT359 2009-03-27 17:04 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Beirut
VZCZCXRO2504
PP RUEHAG RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHDIR RUEHKUK RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHLB #0359/01 0861704
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 271704Z MAR 09
FM AMEMBASSY BEIRUT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4536
INFO RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE
RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE
RUCNIRA/IRAN COLLECTIVE
RUCNRCC/REFUGEE COORDINATOR COLLECTIVE
RUEHDE/AMCONSUL DUBAI 0272
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 3614
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO 3817
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BEIRUT 000359 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR NEA/FO, NEA/ELA AND NEA/IR FOLEY 
ALSO FOR IO ACTING A/S WARLICK 
PRM FOR ACTING A/S SAM WITTEN 
P FOR DRUSSELL, RRANGASWAMY 
USUN FOR WOLFF/GERMAIN/SCHEDLBAUER 
NSC FOR SHAPIRO, MCDERMOTT 
DOD/OSD FOR FLOURNOY/KAHL/DALTON 
DRL/NESA FOR WHITMAN/BARGHOUT 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/26/2019 
TAGS: PREF LE SY SU IR ICJ
SUBJECT: LEBANON: UNHCR REPRESENTATIVE UPBEAT ON IRAQI 
REFUGEES IN LEBANON 
 
BEIRUT 00000359  001.2 OF 003 
 
 
Classified By: Ambassador Michele J. Sison for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
SUMMARY 
--------- 
1. (C) Ambassador and Emboffs met with UN High Commissioner 
for Refugees (UNHCR) Representative Stephane Jaquemet on 
March 25, who described the current condition of Iraqi 
refugees in Lebanon.  Jaquemet reported that he hoped to work 
with the Government of Lebanon (GOL) to amend its immigration 
law to grant permanent legal recognition to refugees in 
Lebanon.  Jaquemet also discussed the status of other refugee 
groups in Lebanon -- including Sudanese, Syrian and Iranian 
refugees -- as well as the impact of the Special Tribunal for 
Lebanon and his appreciation for USG funding. End summary. 
 
UPDATE ON IRAQI REFUGEES 
------------------------ 
2. (C) Jaquemet lauded the Government of Lebanon (GOL) for 
renewing an amnesty decree that allows those Iraqi refugees 
living illegally in Lebanon but not in detention to 
regularize their status.  He said that UNHCR continues to 
have a strong working relationship with General Security, the 
GOL,s lead agency on Iraqi refugee immigration issues.  He 
noted that General Security is currently holding in detention 
fewer than 100 Iraqis, a significant decrease from the 700 
Iraqis in detention this time last year.  Also, the duration 
of detention has dropped from around six to nine months to an 
average of two months, he said. 
 
3. (C) Regarding resettlement, Jaquemet said that 300 Iraqi 
refugees have been resettled from Lebanon so far this year 
and he expects 2000 refugees to be resettled by the end of 
2009.  As the first few tranches of the most vulnerable and 
at-risk refugees have been resettled, UNHCR is seeing a 
decrease in the number of Iraqis offered resettlement.  While 
the USG has continued to approve over 90% of the cases 
referred to it, European countries have approved 
approximately 60% to 70% of referred cases for resettlement. 
Sweden, which in the past had a very liberal policy in 
resettling Iraqis, is approving fewer than 50% of referred 
cases.  Jaquemet added that UNHCR is also seeing decreased 
approval rates in neighboring countries with large Iraqi 
refugee populations such as Jordan, Syria and Turkey. 
 
CHALDEAN COMMUNITY SPLIT ON RESETTLEMENT 
---------------------------------------- 
 
4. (C) The Ambassador inquired on the status of Iraqi 
Chaldean Christians in Lebanon.  She said Lebanese Chaldean 
leaders have told her in recent meetings that they are 
actively encouraging Iraqi Christians not to leave the Middle 
East.  These leaders have offered assistance to Iraqi 
Christian refugees to persuade them to remain in Lebanon or 
return to Iraq.  The Ambassador added that non-Chaldean 
Christian leaders, like the Maronite Patriarch, have also 
taken an interest in the issue of mass migration of 
Christians from the Middle East. 
 
5. (C) Jaquemet described the Chaldean community as divided. 
Chaldean groups in the United States strongly favor 
resettlement of Chaldean Iraqis in the United States and 
other Western nations.  In contrast, the Chaldean Patriarch 
in Iraq is not in favor of mass resettlement of Iraqi 
Chaldeans.  Jaquemet also added that the number of Iraqi 
Christians in Lebanon is rising, as many continue to flee 
sectarian violence in Iraq.  Unlike other groups, however, 
the majority enter Lebanon legally, often flying directly 
from Iraq to Lebanon. 
 
AMENDING LEBANON,S LAW REGARDING REFUGEES 
----------------------------------------- 
 
6. (C) Jaquemet said one of UNHCR,s major goals is to change 
 
BEIRUT 00000359  002.2 OF 003 
 
 
the legal status of refugees under Lebanese law. Jaquemet 
acknowledged that because of the political sensitivities 
surrounding Palestinian refugees, Lebanon would not sign the 
1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of 
Refugees or its 1967 Protocol.  Instead, UNHCR is working to 
amend the 1962 immigration law to require the non-deportation 
and non-detention of refugees.  The ultimate goal would be to 
have Lebanon accord non-Palestinian refugees a permanent 
formal status and prevent their arbitrary detention. 
 
7. (C) Jaquemet said that Minister of Interior Ziad Baroud 
and the Chairman of the Parliament's Administration and 
Justice Committee, MP Robert Ghanem, have expressed support 
for amending the law.  Jaquemet would like to submit a 
proposal on this to the Parliament, but he expressed doubt 
that any action would be taken in the final weeks leading up 
to the June 7 parliamentary elections. 
 
STATUS OF SUDANESE, SYRIAN, AND IRANIAN REFUGEES IN LEBANON 
--------------------------------------------- -------------- 
 
8. (C) After Iraqis, Sudanese nationals comprise the largest 
number of non-Palestinian refugees in Lebanon.  Jaquemet 
estimated there were approximately 700 Sudanese nationals 
registered with UNHCR in Lebanon, most of whom entered 
Lebanon illegally via Syria.  Jaquemet said it was a 
challenge to screen legitimate refugees from areas like 
Darfur from Sudanese economic refugees who falsely claim to 
fear persecution. 
 
9. (C) Jaquemet also discussed Syrian refugees in Lebanon. 
He said that UNHCR has registered approximately 200-250 
Syrians, with 10 to 15 new registrants per month.  Most of 
these individuals are high-profile political opponents of the 
Syrian regime whose bona fides have been verified by UNHCR or 
Syrian Kurds.  So far the GOL has not obstructed the 
departure of Syrians refugees for resettlement, but Jaquemet 
raised the concern that this practice might change as the 
relationship between the Lebanese and Syrian governments 
improves. 
 
10. (C) UNHCR in Lebanon has also received around 35 Iranian 
Ahwazi refugees via Syria.  The Ahwazi initially flee to 
Syria, where they register with and are processed by UNHCR. 
Many of the Ahwazi are eventually offered resettlement to 
Western nations, particularly Australia.  At the behest of 
Iranian authorities, the Syrian government has stopped 
issuing these refugees the requisite permits to depart for 
resettlement, but they do allow them to cross over to 
Lebanon.  Once in Lebanon, the Ahwazi refugees have made 
their way to the UNHCR office in Beirut to complete the 
resettlement process started in Syria, most going to 
Australia. 
 
SPECIAL TRIBUNAL FOR LEBANON AND UNHCR 
-------------------------------------- 
 
11. (C) Jaquemet also discussed the possible impact on UNHCR 
of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), which is 
investigating the assassination of former prime minister 
Rafiq Hariri and related cases.  He detailed a new case 
involving a Syrian national, Ibrahim Jarjoura, who was 
arrested nearly three years ago in connection with the 
assassination, but was released by Lebanese authorities in 
late February.  Through his lawyer, Jarjoura has recently 
inquired about refugee status with UNHCR in Beirut, although 
a formal application has not yet been filed. 
 
12. (C) Jaquemet said that Jarjoura is believed to be a 
former Syrian intelligence officer, who might now be aligned 
with the anti-Syrian March 14th coalition in Lebanon.  While 
Jarjoura has not been formally interviewed by UNHCR, if he 
had ever participated in any type of human rights abuses he 
 
BEIRUT 00000359  003.2 OF 003 
 
 
would most likely not qualify for status as a refugee or be 
offered resettlement.  However, if Jarjoura has a credible 
fear of torture if he returns to Syria, then Lebanon, which 
is a signatory to the UN Convention against Torture, could 
not repatriate him back to Syria.  Jaquemet said that as the 
STL proceeds, other individuals might apply for some sort of 
protection status, either asylum or refugee.  He said he was 
consulting with fellow UN officials on the legal and 
political implications of Jarjoura,s and any other future 
claims. 
 
SINCERE GRATITUDE FOR USG ASSISTANCE 
------------------------------------ 
 
13. (C) At the end of the meeting Jaquemet expressed sincere 
appreciation and gratitude for the USG,s support of UNHCR. 
He said approximately 50% of his overall budget was funded by 
the USG, while EU countries contributed only around 5%. 
SISON

 



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