Viewing cable 03LAGOS519
Title: NIGERIA: UNHCR SEEKS USG HELP WITH NIGERIA ON

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
03LAGOS5192003-03-12 06:37:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Consulate Lagos
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 02 LAGOS 000519 
 
SIPDIS 
 
 
FOR REFUGEE OFFICERS; CAIRO FOR POL -- MAXSTADT. 
 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/10/2013 
TAGS: PREF PREL PGOV IV LI NI
SUBJECT: NIGERIA: UNHCR SEEKS USG HELP WITH NIGERIA ON 
LIBERIAN REFUGEES 
 
 
REF: A. SECSTATE 36393 
     ¶B. LAGOS 00381 
     ¶C. LAGOS 00407 
     ¶D. ACCRA 00363 
     ¶E. SECSTATE 08699 
 
 
Classified By: CG ROBYN HINSON-JONES FOR REASONS 1.5 (B&D). 
 
 
¶1.  (C) SUMMARY.  Eusebe Hounsokou, UNHCR representative in 
Nigeria, updated Poloff on his efforts to relocate 5,000 
Liberian refugees from Cote d'Ivoire to Nigeria (Ref B).  Per 
UNHCR Geneva's information, Hounsokou advised the GON that, 
since the USG may take up to 10,000 Liberian refugees for 
resettlement, permanent shelters will not/not be necessary to 
accommodate those transferred here until arrangements can be 
made to move them to the United States.  If the GON approves 
the relocation, UNHCR will advise against placing all 5,000 
Liberian refugees in a single camp within Nigeria.  He asked 
that Ambassador Jeter raise the issue with President 
Obasanjo.  Per Abuja Septel, GON appears to be leaning toward 
accepting some refugees.  Ambassador's intervention with the 
President may not be necessary.  Apparently receiving 
inaccurate information from Geneva, Hounsokou is representing 
our offer regarding possible United States resettlement of 
refugees as more ironclad than we would like. 
Washington/Geneva may want to clarify this with UNHCR (see 
para 5).  END SUMMARY. 
 
 
¶2.  (C) On February 26, Hounsokou recounted to Poloff his 
earlier conversations with MFA Permanent Secretary Ambassador 
Daniel Hart and GON Commissioner for Refugees Professor Igna 
Gabriel.  Hounsokou's initial approach to the MFA was not 
forwarded to Nigeria's refugee commissioner, who asked that a 
formal request be readdressed to him. Hounsokou sent the 
requested letter to Commissioner Gabriel on February 25 and 
was awaiting the GON's official reply.  On separate 
occasions, each gentleman gave Hounsokou his personal support 
for relocating the requested 5,000 Liberian refugees to 
Nigeria from Cote d'Ivoire (Ref A).  Each told Hounsokou he 
felt "ashamed" that Nigeria had not taken part in the 
military operation, and thus hoped the GON would play a 
humanitarian role. 
 
 
¶3.  (C) Hounsokou is optimistic that GON will accept the 
refugees for relocation here.  Gabriel suggested to Hounsokou 
that Obasanjo will make the decision personally.  Gabriel 
will tell Obasanjo his opinion that "This is our duty.  We 
should assist with the refugees."  Hounsokou asked if 
Ambassador Jeter could speak with President Obasanjo to 
confirm USG interest in the issue and to encourage a rapid 
decision on the GON's part. (Embassy Abuja delivered the 
Reftel A demarche to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  The 
Nigerians seemed to be leaning heavily toward a positive 
decision. Consequently, there is little utility for the 
Ambassador's intervention at this stage. The MFA and other 
GON agencies are scheduled to meet within the next week and 
make a decision on the refugees.  Depending on the decision, 
the Mission will reconsider the appropriateness of Ambassador 
Jeter intervening with the President.) 
 
 
¶4.  (C) NOTE: UNHCR Geneva apparently advised Hounsokou that 
USG may take up to 10,000 Liberian refugees for resettlement. 
 On this basis, he is suggesting to the GON that permanent 
shelters will not/not be necessary to accommodate those 
transferred here until arrangements can be made to move them 
to the U.S.  Poloff cautioned Hounsokou that the USG would 
first require each individual case to be dutifully 
documented, something we understand has been difficult given 
the problems with file corruption at Nicla (Refs A and D). 
Hounsokou requested more information about what USG 
requirements will entail in this regard. 
 
 
¶5.  (U) Washington/Geneva: Based on information received from 
UNHCR Geneva, Hounsokou apparently has represented to the GON 
that the USG was firmly committed to taking thousands of 
refugees.  Our interpretation of Reftel A indicates that this 
is not the case.  To avoid future misunderstanding, 
Washington/Geneva may want to clarify our position with UNHCR 
Geneva. 
 
 
¶6.  (C) Hounsokou expressed concern that the GON may lack the 
resources to transport the refugees.  Any assistance the USG 
can provide in this regard would be appreciated. Poloff 
suggested that Hounsokou check with UNHCR Geneva for possible 
transportation funds, and mentioned that the USG recently 
contributed $30 million to the UNHCR that was allocated to 
Africa (Ref E). 
 
 
¶7.  (C) If the GON approves the relocation, UNHCR will advise 
against placing all 5,000 Liberian refugees in a single camp 
within Nigeria.  Experience has taught UNHCR that large 
refugee camps often become recruitment grounds for armed 
factions to recruit fighters. 
 
 
¶8.  (SBU) UNHCR plans to relocate its main office to Abuja 
sometime between September and December 2003, when their 
contractor should have completed the new facility.  Due to 
the Lagos office's proximity to the refugee camp, Hounsokou 
would like to keep a senior staff member here to manage the 
camp. 
 
 
¶9. (C) COMMENT: The GON has provided hopeful signs that it 
will accept a number of refugees. Whatever it decides, the 
GON will base its decision on its role as  a sub-regional 
leader balanced against strong domestic budgetary and 
political exigencies.  Potential USG plans to resettle 
Liberians in the U.S. may be a factor in the decision but a 
secondary one.  However, unless corrected, the 
misunderstanding that the US will take in most of not all 
these refugees will be important in shaping UNHCR and 
Nigeria's plans for accommodating the refugees.  The UNHCR 
and the GON would need significantly fewer resources to 
accommodate refugees on a short-term basis.  Consequently, it 
is imperative that we eliminate any misunderstanding about 
the USG's commitment toward the Liberian refugees.  END 
COMMENT. 
HINSON-JONES