Viewing cable 03AMMAN3515
Title: REPATRIATION OF IRAQIS: VIEWS FROM JORDAN

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
03AMMAN35152003-06-15 06:33:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN Embassy Amman
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 AMMAN 003515 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
 
DEPT FOR NEA/NGA AND PRM, GENEVA FOR RMA, OCPA FOR JONES 
AND LAPENN 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/11/2013 
TAGS: PREF PREL IZ JO
SUBJECT: REPATRIATION OF IRAQIS:  VIEWS FROM JORDAN 
 
REF: A. STATE 145785 
     ¶B. POLASCHIK/LAPENN JUNE 8 E-MAIL 
 
Classified By: DCM Greg Berry, per 1.5 (b) and (d). 
 
¶1.  (C) Summary:  According to the GOJ, between 22,000 and 
23,000 Iraqis have returned voluntarily from Jordan since 
hostilities began.  Neither UNHCR nor the GOJ is pushing for 
the quick return of the 250,000 to 300,000 Iraqis resident in 
Jordan; both want to wait until security conditions improve 
in Iraq before organizing assisted returns.  At the same 
time, however, the GOJ has waived all overstay fines for 
illegal Iraqis returning to Iraq -- provided they agree not 
to return to Jordan for five years.  In spite of the ongoing 
spontaneous returns, not one single Iraqi has approached 
UNHCR to register for an assisted return; UNHCR believes 
continuing security problems in Iraq and UNHCR's lack of 
publicity regarding return options are responsible.  UNHCR 
does not want to engage in return discussions with the GOJ or 
implementing partners until security conditions in Iraq 
improve and UNHCR/Iraq is able to receive returnees.  UNHCR 
anticipates that small-scale spontaneous returns will 
continue over the next two to three months, with 
UNHCR-assisted returns beginning in September at the 
earliest.  UNHCR is planning for the return of 70,000 Iraqis 
from Jordan over the next six months.  Separately, Jordan 
will continue to serve as a transit point for Iraqis 
returning from Europe; IOM will resume its Assisted Voluntary 
Return program June 12-13 with a group of 12 Iraqis.  IOM 
believes that up to 100,000 Iraqis could return from Europe 
over the next year.  End summary. 
 
UP TO 23,000 SPONTANEOUS RETURNS FROM JORDAN 
-------------------------------------------- 
 
¶2.  (C)  According to Minister of State for Foreign Affairs 
Shaher Bak, between 22,000 and 23,000 Iraqis have returned 
from Jordan since hostilities began in March.  Bak noted that 
the initial 5,000 to 7,000 returnees in the early days of 
hostilities were in "another category," security-related 
deportations and presumed fighters.  (NOTE:  The GOJ is 
sharing a much lower figure -- 7,200 returnees -- with UNHCR 
and IOM.)  Both Bak and UNHCR Representative Sten Bronee 
commented separately that a large number of Iraqis may now be 
traveling between Iraq and Jordan in search of business 
opportunities or scouting out conditions for the return of 
other family members.  (NOTE:  UNHCR has sought coalition 
forces' assistance in monitoring returns from Jordan to Iraq, 
preparing a draft survey for use by coalition forces at the 
Karameh/Trebil border post.  Embassy Amman's HACC is working 
to develop appropriate monitoring procedures.) 
 
NO GOJ PRESSURE AND NO IRAQI INTEREST IN UNHCR HELP 
--------------------------------------------- ------ 
 
¶3.  (C) Neither the GOJ nor UNHCR is pressing for the quick 
return of the estimated 250,000 to 300,000 Iraqis currently 
resident in Jordan.  Minister of State for Foreign Affairs 
Shaher Bak has repeatedly told UNHCR that the GOJ wants to 
wait until conditions improve in Iraq before organizing 
assisted returns.  Bak repeated this message in a June 12 
meeting with DCM and refcoord, pledging explicitly that the 
GOJ "would not force Iraqis out."  Once security conditions 
and stability in Iraq has improved, Bak continued, the GOJ 
would work with international organizations to organize 
assisted returns.  Until then, the GOJ is beginning 
preparations, working with the Ministries of Interior and 
Labor to identify all Iraqis resident in Jordan as well as 
their particular legal status.  Bak predicted that many, but 
not all Iraqis currently resident in Jordan would wish to 
return to Iraq.  In order to encourage the return of Iraqis 
ready and willing to leave Jordan, the GOJ reportedly has 
agreed to waive all fines resulting from illegal overstays -- 
provided the Iraqis do not return to Jordan for five years. 
However, Bak told emboffs the GOJ would not publicize this 
policy until it was ready to implement large-scale, organized 
returns.  Given the GOJ's relaxed attitude about the largely 
illegal Iraqi population, UNHCR staff and other observers are 
beginning to speculate that the GOJ might, in fact, want 
illegal Iraqi laborers to remain in Jordan and continue to 
play their key role in the grey economy. 
 
¶4.  (U) In spite of the ongoing spontaneous returns, UNHCR 
reports that not one single Iraqi has approached UNHCR to 
register for repatriation.  Bronee believes that Iraqis in 
Jordan will remain uninterested in organized, voluntary 
repatriation programs as long as security remains problematic 
inside Iraq.  He noted that word already is circulating in 
the refugee community of a May 30 incident in which a busload 
of 30 Palestinian refugees, returning to Baghdad from UNHCR's 
refugee camp at Ruweished, was robbed of all money and 
luggage near Ramadi, Iraq.  Similarly, in meetings with 
UNHCR's existing Iraqi caseload, more than 500 Iraqi refugees 
told UNHCR they were not willing to return to Iraq and would 
insist upon resettlement in a third country. 
 
¶5.  (U) Bronee speculated that some of the Iraqi disinterest 
in voluntary repatriation could be due to the fact that UNHCR 
has not yet undertaken a concerted publicity campaign in 
Jordan; perhaps, he wondered, Iraqis simply are not aware of 
their options?  But given continuing security difficulties 
inside Iraq and the GOJ's willingness to allow Iraqis to 
remain in Jordan, Bronee continued, he is unwilling to begin 
the repatriation process prematurely, by advertising programs 
and possibilities before conditions are appropriate. 
 
NO ORGANIZED RETURNS BEFORE SEPTEMBER 
AND NO DISCUSSIONS TIL CONDITIONS ARE RIGHT 
------------------------------------------- 
 
¶6.  (U) Bronee expects small-scale spontaneous returns to 
continue over the next two to three months, with 
UNHCR-organized returns beginning in September at the 
earliest.  UNHCR/Iraq Representative Daniel Bellamy told 
Bronee that UNHCR/Iraq staff would be unable to receive 
assisted returns before September at the earliest.  Yet UNHCR 
continues to use 70,000 returns from Jordan over the next six 
months as its planning figure, a calculation Bronee admits is 
purely a guess. 
 
¶7.  (SBU) UNHCR asked the GOJ in an April 14 diplomatic note 
for "closer discussions" on organized return programs, but 
has not yet gotten a response.  Bronee said he is reluctant 
to push the GOJ for a dialogue at this point, as the status 
quo -- GOJ willingness to allow Iraqis to remain in Jordan -- 
will remain necessary until security conditions in Iraq 
improve and UNHCR/Iraq is ready to receive returnees.  Bronee 
and IOM Representative Georgette Hoshe have had preliminary 
discussions regarding possible cooperation on return 
programs, but subsequently agreed that their respective 
headquarters must agree on a division of labor throughout the 
region.  UNHCR has had limited discussions with NGOs 
International Relief and Development (IRD) and Caritas/Jordan 
regarding possible return programs but has not even begun the 
process of identifying implementing partners.  (Both IRD and 
Caritas plan to seek PRM funding.) 
 
IOM:  JORDAN AS TRANSIT POINT FOR RETURNEES FROM EUROPE; 
100,000 POSSIBLE OVER NEXT 12 MONTHS 
--------------------------------------------- ----------- 
 
¶8.  (U) Separately, it is likely that Jordan will continue to 
serve as a key transit point for Iraqis returning from third 
countries, at least until Baghdad International Airport 
reopens for commercial flights -- and possibly longer. 
Before the war, IOM used Royal Jordanian flights to transport 
Iraqis from Europe to Jordan and then onto Iraq, making 
Jordan's role in the return process into little more than a 
transit stop.  However, with no commercial flights into 
Baghdad, IOM now plans to fly Iraqi returnees to Amman and 
then send them overland to Baghdad.  IOM Representative 
Georgette Hoshe reports that IOM has excellent cooperation 
with the GOJ on its Assisted Voluntary Return (AVR) program 
for Iraqis, with the GOJ providing transit visas and police 
escort. 
 
¶9.  (U) Hoshe informed refcoord on June 8 that IOM would 
resume its AVR program on June 12 and 13, facilitating the 
return of 12 Iraqi nationals from Europe (ref b).  Under the 
program, IOM provides Iraqi nationals transportation from 
Amman to Baghdad, plus a reintegration grant of USD 3500 per 
person.  For this initial group, IOM will distribute the 
reintegration grant in Amman; future returnees will receive 
their grants in Baghdad.  Hoshe predicted that the return of 
Iraqis from Europe and other third countries would continue 
on a small scale over the next two to three months, as Iraqis 
test their luck and scout out opportunities for family 
members remaining abroad.  She noted that all returnees in 
this initial group were single men.  Hoshe believes increased 
numbers of Iraqi returns will not happen before November and 
is planning on running an AVR program in Jordan through June 
¶2004.  She predicted that the number of Iraqis returning from 
Europe could reach 100,000. 
 
¶10.  (U) CPA Baghdad minimize considered. 
GNEHM