Viewing cable 03KUWAIT2378
Title: DART WESTERN IRAQ UPDATE

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
03KUWAIT23782003-06-01 18:52:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Kuwait
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 05 KUWAIT 002378 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE ALSO PASS USAID/W 
STATE PLEASE REPEAT TO IO COLLECTIVE 
STATE FOR PRM/ANE, EUR/SE, NEA/NGA, IO AND SA/PAB 
NSC FOR EABRAMS, SMCCORMICK, STAHIR-KHELI, JDWORKEN 
USAID FOR USAID/A, DCHA/AA, DCHA/RMT, DCHA/FFP 
USAID FOR DCHA/OTI, DCHA/DG, ANE/AA 
USAID FOR DCHA/OFDA:WGARVELINK, BMCCONNELL, KFARNSWORTH 
USAID FOR ANE/AA:WCHAMBERLIN 
ROME FOR FODAG 
GENEVA FOR RMA AND NKYLOH 
ANKARA FOR AMB WRPEARSON, ECON AJSIROTIC AND DART 
AMMAN FOR USAID AND DART 
 
E.O. 12958:  N/A 
TAGS: EAID PREF IZ WFP
SUBJECT:  DART WESTERN IRAQ UPDATE 
 
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SUMMARY 
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¶1.  DART Field Team West participated in the daily 
Governorate Support Team meeting in Al Hillah on 25 May and 
offered updates of its governorate-level engagements, 
including support to rehabilitate a human-rights 
organization's new offices, the facilitation of Babil food 
distribution, coordination with and support of NGOs, refugee- 
return preparation, vulnerable-population oversight, and 
donations support.  The DART later participated in a public 
distribution system meeting between WFP and the Ministry of 
Trade, and spoke to the governorate's labor and social 
affairs directors about vulnerable groups in Babil. 
 
¶2.  The DART visited Karbala on 26 May and found vibrant 
markets and crowded streets, but also heard reports of a 
destroyed sewage system, insecurity, the lack of sufficient 
power supply, and a scarcity of drugs and equipment in the 
city's hospitals.  The DART attended Karbala's "city 
council" meeting, visited with WFP and MOT local staffs, 
talked to doctors at a hospital, and met with the newly 
created Human Rights Society.  End Summary 
 
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FOOD DISTRIBUTION ISSUES 
------------------------ 
 
¶3.  The DART met with U.N. World Food Program (WFP) and 
Ministry of Trade (MOT) representatives in Al Hillah on 25 
May to discuss the June ration distribution, bringing up 
several issues requiring follow-up action.  WFP and MOT are 
reorganizing the food stocks at the main food warehouse in 
Al Hillah and will conduct a stock inventory over the next 
few days to determine actual stocks on hand and shortages. 
WFP said that wheat flour, rice, sugar, tea, and soap are in 
stock, but that it was unsure of the extent of shortages of 
vegetable oil, pulses and other commodities. 
 
¶4.  MOT expressed interest in the DART's proposal to involve 
MOT security personnel in the ongoing security training 
program offered by Coalition civil-military officials.  MOT 
will provide civil-military personnel with the names, 
positions, and locations of MOT security personnel working 
at the warehouse and the silo.  The DART will monitor to 
ensure this group is included in the training. 
 
¶5.  The MOT mentioned a new bureaucratic procedure that 
complicated the procurement of spare parts for silo 
equipment.  According to the Al Hillah silo manager, the Al 
Hillah governor had changed the MOT's procedures and has 
insisted that MOT request the governor's approval of spare 
part expenditures. MOT said this procedure added at least 
five days to the procurement time for spare parts, 
potentially creating a large bottleneck at the silo if a 
breakdown occurred during a convoy delivery.  DART will 
raise the issue with the Office of Reconstruction and 
Humanitarian Assistance (ORHA) and civil-military officials 
to determine its validity and, if necessary, to develop a 
course of corrective action. 
 
¶6.  The MOT mentioned that under the former public 
distribution system, certain silo and warehouse employees 
were paid 1,000 dinar of additional pay for working on 
holidays, weekends, or during surge periods when large 
shipments arrived and longer hours were required.  An MOT 
silo manager said this amount had not been included in the 
new MOT budget lists. DART will raise this issue with ORHA 
and civil-military officials. 
 
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VULNERABLE POPULATIONS IN AL HILLAH 
----------------------------------- 
 
¶7.  Residents of Al Hillah would welcome returning refugees 
who fled in 1991, according to the labor director of Al 
Hillah's Ministry of Labor and Social Services.  However, he 
does not expect refugee returns soon because of insecurity 
and uncertainty in Iraq.  "They will be shocked to see the 
hard circumstances when they return," he said.  The labor 
director also said that the greatest labor problems in Al 
Hillah were electricity shortages, insecurity, and organized 
labor disruptions.  He said the main employers in Al Hillah 
were mills, garment and plastics factories, a biscuit 
factory, car repair shops, and electrical utilities, and 
that all were experiencing low productivity.  Employees will 
soon receive their first post-war salaries, and all have 
been given their USD 20 emergency payment. 
 
¶8.  The director of social services oversees Al Hillah's two 
orphanages (one for boys, one for girls), the houses for the 
deaf and mentally handicapped, a kindergarten, and services 
for 3,700 poor families comprised of widows, the elderly, or 
the blind.  He said the former regime gave these families 
their last quarterly payment of 15,000 to 22,500 dinars in 
December.  The Director is not sure when the Coalition will 
offer them their next "salaries."  His social workers have 
not been able to identify additional vulnerable families 
after the war because they have been consumed with salary 
issues.  The 3,700 families and the institutionalized 
residents traditionally received food through the public 
distribution system, but he did not know when they would 
receive their next rations.  The non-governmental 
organization (NGO) Enfants du Monde delivered food to all of 
the city's institutional residents four days ago. 
 
¶9.  The Director gave three recommendations to improve 
services to vulnerable residents of Al Hillah: 1) 
immediately give the 3,700 poor families their "salaries;" 
2) install air-conditioning in the city's institutions; and 
3) provide bus service to social service workers and the 
handicapped.  He also said the threat of insecurity 
continued to deter girls from returning to institutions, 
including the girls orphanage that lies empty. 
 
 
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KARBALA'S OBSTETRICS AND GYNECOLOGICAL HOSPITAL 
--------------------------------------------- -- 
 
¶10.  In this 120-bed hospital, approximately 120 to 150 
women visit the outpatient department daily and 50 enter the 
inpatient department.  Twenty-eight doctors work at this 
hospital, which had been converted from a social club before 
sanctions were imposed.  According to the two doctors with 
whom the DART spoke, the main problems for women in Karbala 
include anemia, malnutrition, and complications with 
delivery. 
 
¶11.  During and immediately after the war, many women 
suffered from premature labor and preclampsia, and of the 10 
to 15 children born per day, two to three have congenital 
anomalies.  This hospital seems to face many similar 
problems to those encountered in other hospitals in the 
region.  Many patients cannot pay hospital fees, there is a 
lack of essential drugs (no drugs have been received by the 
Ministry of Health (MOH) storehouse since before the war), 
and a scarcity of equipment (oxygen, masks, disposable 
gloves, catheters, etc.). 
 
¶12.  Security continues to be a problem.  Thieves tried to 
steal three of the hospital's cars in the last few days. 
Other problems include a shortage of electrical power with 
only three to four hours of electricity per day, causing the 
hospital to be dependent on a backup generator.  The 
hospital has received small-scale assistance from the 
Coalition(repainting of the lobby), and has not met with any 
international organizations thus far. 
 
¶13.  Of note, one of the women doctors explained that there 
had been two patients in the last week who had reportedly 
been raped.  No specifics were shared.  According to the 
doctor, rape was very rare in the past.  She worries that 
the security situation of women and girls around town will 
worsen before it improves. 
 
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HUMAN RIGHTS SOCIETY IN KARBALA 
------------------------------- 
 
¶14.  The Human Rights Society in Karbala is comprised of 60 
male members, including volunteers.  The group was formed 
from members of the Lawyers' Union after the fall of the 
former regime.  The society is using the old youth 
association building until they find a more permanent place 
for its headquarters, which may turn out to be the Lawyers' 
Union building.  It does not have office equipment and is 
using a borrowed computer to conduct daily business. 
The staff's work includes demining, mass graves follow-up, 
locating missing soldiers, and recording war damages for 
future compensation.  The Society reported that more than 
500 homes were destroyed in Karbala during the war, with 200 
people injured. 
¶15.  The society is using local television and is beginning 
a newsletter to educate the local community about its work. 
According to two of the members, there are 29 mass graves in 
the surrounding area.  Of those, five have been unearthed. 
However, as a consequence of Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Husseini 
Al-Sistani's (a revered Shia religious leader) decree 
requesting that these graves not be disturbed, the remaining 
graves have been left untouched in the hope that 
international forensics teams can begin work on them.  The 
society members are attempting to secure these sites 
themselves but are seeking more guidance and assistance on 
this issue. 
 
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INSECURITY IN KARBALA 
--------------------- 
 
¶16.  A need for greater security in Karbala was emphasized 
time and again at Monday's "City Council" meeting attended 
by 12 councilors, the governor, the DART, and eight military 
officials.  The military officials included the Karbala 
"military governor," and the heads of the governorate 
support team (GST) and the civil-military operations center 
(CMOC), who responded to councilors' pleas for assistance 
and information.  In addition to insecurity, officials noted 
scarcities of gas, liquid propane gas (LPG), and 
electricity. 
 
¶17.  The Religion Councilor proposed a livelihoods plan to 
employ individuals to remove trash from the streets and 
communities.  He complained about abysmal conditions at the 
police station's jail, calling it "unsuitable for an 
animal."  The CMOC representatives responded by saying the 
police received USD 15,000 on 26 May to begin the jail's 
rehabilitation.  The Religion Councilor also pointedly asked 
the CMOC representatives why he was being investigated by 
the Coalition.  "I made it clear to them," he said, "that I 
don't lean toward violence."  The military governor assured 
him his case would likely be resolved soon, and that a 
political vetting process was necessary. 
 
¶18.  The meeting of the councilors, all men, lasted two 
hours and was held in a large meeting room.  During the 
meeting, a Karbala television reporter arrived and 
videotaped portions of the proceedings. 
 
¶19.  Starting on 26 May, the Karbala CMOC opened a permanent 
office in the city hall.  The CMOC is responsible for 
coordinating the agriculture and fuel sectors, as well as 
for interacting with NGOs.  The GST, jointly run by the 
Marines and Army, covers all other sectors, including 
health, water and sanitation, and justice.  The GST said the 
sewage plant was destroyed during the war when 750,000 
liters of diesel fuel were deliberately pumped into the 
system.  It remains down, as does one of the city's two 
electrical grids.  The CMOC director said he was aware of 
NGO activities by Save the Children, the International 
Rescue Committee, and another agency that had done water 
interventions at the city's hospitals. 
 
--------------------------------------------- -- 
DELAYS IN KARBALA, AL HILLAH FOOD DISTRIBUTIONS 
--------------------------------------------- -- 
 
¶20.   The DART visited WFP/Karbala on 26 May to discuss 
issues related to the 1 June distributions. WFP stated that 
as of 26 May, the Karbala main food warehouse was short of 
vegetable oil, pulses, adult milk, salt, and weaning cereal. 
WFP/Karbala reported that WFP international staff announced 
that a delayed distribution start date of around 7 June 
might be necessary to allow for additional commodities to 
arrive to complete the ration.  (Note:  The recently 
announced ration by the central MOT does not include adult 
milk, salt, or weaning cereal due to nationwide shortages. 
End Note.) 
 
¶21.  According to WFP/Karbala, the MOT ration/registration 
Center, the Grain Board, the Monitoring Office, and the Food 
Store are all operational and ready for an early June 
distribution. A second report of unexploded ordnance (UXO) 
discovered at the food warehouse has been filed with the 
CMOC, and military officials said the UXO would be assessed 
shortly. WFP claimed that this UXO did not pose a threat to 
present stocks, workers, or distributions. 
 
¶22.  Security drive-bys and visits by CMOC personnel have 
increased noticeably.  While security could still be 
improved, WFP felt that the increased presence was making a 
positive impact on the security in the area.  WFP/Karbala 
reported no problems with the grain silo or mills. 
In Al Hillah, WFP confirmed the possibility of a delayed 
start date for June distribution. Both governorates are 
awaiting instructions from WFP management. DART continues to 
work with CMOC/Al Hillah to reduce gate searches at the main 
food warehouse and to allow WFP employees and vehicle access 
to the facility without searches. 
 
¶23.  Neither WFP/Karbala nor WFP/Al Hillah had noticed 
assistance from Save the Children or the Norwegian Refugee 
Council, the WFP partners in these two governorates. 
WFP/Karbala said the Salvation Army expressed interest in 
meeting with WFP representatives to discuss assisting them 
with supplemental food distributions for orphanages, 
hospitals, and other institutions for the vulnerable. Team 
West will monitor this possible activity. 
 
URBANCIC