Viewing cable 03KUWAIT2638
Title: DART REPORT ON DOCUMENTATION LOSS IN SOUTHERN IRAQ

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
03KUWAIT26382003-06-16 15:15:00 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 04 KUWAIT 002638 
 
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 
DOHA FOR MSHIRLEY 
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 REPORT ON DOCUMENTATION LOSS IN SOUTHERN IRAQ 
 
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SUMMARY 
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¶1.  The pervasive looting that occurred throughout Iraq in 
the wake of the conflict created several challenges for 
future humanitarian assistance and reconstruction efforts. 
One of those challenges affecting many sectors was the loss 
of official documentation for identification and operational 
purposes.  From hospitals to courthouses, the loss of 
important documents continues to complicate recovery 
efforts.  In the wake of the conflict, the successful 
protection of important documents by dedicated civil 
servants and Coalition forces varied considerably by sector 
and by governorate.  This variation exists for documents in 
all government sectors throughout southern Iraq.  The 
information contained in the ration card system of the PDS 
could be a valuable resource to fill gaps in official 
documentation as it is rebuilt.  Vulnerable groups that may 
have lost their ration cards or other documents will need 
special assistance in obtaining documentation necessary to 
access much needed humanitarian assistance and basic 
services.  End Summary. 
 
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OFFICIAL DOCUMENTS LOST 
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¶2.  In the wake of the conflict and the looting that 
followed, a significant portion of official documents housed 
in government buildings were destroyed.  This included 
documents from municipal or governorate offices, passport 
offices, hospitals, food ration centers, schools, police 
stations, prisons, and courthouses throughout southern Iraq. 
There was variation across sectors and governorates in the 
extent of document loss.    The case of courthouses 
illustrates the variation.  In An Nasiriyah, nearly all 
legal documents from the courthouse were burned.  In other 
towns like Al Kut, staff protected the documents at the 
courthouse by patrolling the grounds themselves during the 
looting.  Other staff of courthouses such as in Al Amarah, 
took documents, including property ownership files, home to 
protect them. 
 
¶3.  As security improves and government buildings are 
rehabilitated, civil servants in many sectors are bringing 
computers and documents back to work.  While this will begin 
to rebuild databases, the gaps from destroyed documents will 
remain. This will create serious obstacles to the new civil 
administration in such things as identifying citizens and 
building an accurate census base. 
 
¶4.  In Basrah, looters destroyed many identification 
documents at the civil courthouse. Some documents, however, 
were identified and prioritized for protection by the 
International Organization for Migration (IOM) and Coalition 
forces.  IOM realized the importance of protecting the 
remaining civilian identification files in Basrah because 
the files were critical to identifying and protecting 
internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Iraq.  With the 
support of the DART, IOM is implementing a project to help 
local staff of the civil courthouse to collect and organize 
the remaining identification documents for Basrah 
Governorate.  Since there will undoubtedly be gaps in this 
database, other sources of information on the population of 
Iraq and their needs and vulnerability are needed. 
 
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DOCUMENTATION FOR THE PDS RATION CARD SYSTEM 
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¶5.  With the help of the U.N. World Food Program (WFP) and 
the U.S. Government, the public distribution system (PDS) 
for food and other rations is restarting across Iraq.  This 
massive distribution system has been meeting the food needs 
of Iraqis and is implemented and monitored through careful 
record keeping on the numbers of individuals throughout the 
country.  In Basrah, the ration  Ration Registration centers 
(RRCs), Ministry of Trade (MOT) offices, and warehouses were 
looted and many paper documents burned.  However, committed 
staff took computers and the detailed ration card database 
home for protection.  Once this data is back in use, it can 
serve as an important resource for reassembling census and 
other information on the population of Iraq.  Some form of 
liaison between civil courts and the managers of the ration 
card systemPDS database could facilitate appropriate 
coverage of the population needing identity documents 
reissued. 
 
¶6.  Since their access to food and other important 
commodities such as pharmaceuticals was based on their 
ration cards, Iraqis usually guarded these cards closely and 
kept them up-to-date.  Families were quick to report new 
births and careful to register changes in their place of 
residence to ensure receipt of a proper ration.  Since the 
conflict began, the staff at 34 ration centersRRCs in Basrah 
Governorate has been proactively registering returnees 
(including 10 newly returned prisoners of war from the Iran- 
Iraq conflict, and ten families returning from Kirkuk), and 
"exceptional" cases (ex-prisoners, draft dodgers, and 
political dissidents).  Three hundred new infants have also 
been registered.  They have also registered new families 
arriving to the area. 
 
¶7.  The protection of ration cards by individual families 
along with the well-designed and managed record 
systemdatabase makes the ration card databaseit one of the 
most accurate and up-to-date forms of documentation on the 
population of Iraq.  Even before the conflict, ration cards 
were often used by Iraqis for identification purposes when 
applying for a passport or other special papers or 
allowances from the government. 
 
¶8.  According to the Director of the Main Distribution 
Center for Basrah Governorate, his database is safe and 
complete.  The hardcopy ration cards held by individual 
families list the name of the head of household, the number 
of family members in the household, and the date of birth of 
any children under one year of age.  It also lists the house 
number, neighborhood, village, and district as well as the 
name and reference number of the distribution food/flour 
agent.  A neighborhood leader must certify that each family 
lives in his area and new cards were issued every November 
for the entire next calendar year.  The last cards were 
issued in November 2002. 
 
¶9.  Further details on each family are recorded on the 
computer database for the ration systemPDS.  The database 
contains the name, gender, date of birth, and civil 
identification number of each family member.  The computer 
database also contains a record of movements of families 
from town to town or governorate to governorate.  The ration 
card database also contains information about people 
arrested by the former regime.  Before the conflict, the MOT 
would inform the ration centerRRC to temporarily delete an 
individual sent to prison from a family's ration card.  The 
ration center would then write a note for the food agent to 
withhold the ration for that individual. 
 
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VULNERABLE POPULATIONS WITHOUT RATION CARDS 
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¶10.  Under the old system, when a family moved they had to 
request written proof from their old previous RRC ration 
center that they had been deleted from that center's list 
before being able to register in the town or neighborhood of 
new residence.  They then had to take that certificate to 
the ration centerRRC at their new residence before receiving 
rations.  The transfer of registration used to take about 
one month to process under the old system.  The disruption 
caused by the conflict is already highlighting problems with 
this system for IDPs who have recently moved.  Arabs 
returning from the North to Basrah will have problems 
getting written proof of their removal from the PDS in the 
North before returning to the South.  Several such families 
had turned up at the main ration centerRRC in Basrah by late 
May and were denied new ration cards due to lack of proper 
paperwork.  In June, with the assistance of WFP and support 
of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) Lower South, it 
was decided that those without ration cards, or registered 
in a governorate to which they would not return, would be 
provisionally registered in the governorate of their current 
residence and receive a PDS ration in June.  Provisional 
registration has begun in An Nasiriyah, Basrah, and Maysan. 
WFP is also working with the MOT in Samawah to begin the 
process there. 
 
¶11.  Other families to be enrolled provisionally in June 
turned away from the ration center in Basrah include those 
returning from Iran who have very old identification cards 
from the early 1990s.  Many do not even have these.Three to 
four such families were turned away by the ration center 
staff in Basrah and told to get proper identification before 
they can be registered for the PDS.  Provisional 
registration of families lacking up-to-date identity, 
citizenship, and marriage documentation is only a temporary 
"fix', and the issue of assisting families acquire 
appropriate documentation is one yet to be addressed.  The 
importance of addressing this issue is seen in Al Kut, where 
, around the same time,Coalition Civil Affairs personnel 
have received complaintswerereceiving complaints from IDP 
families that the Director of Education would not let their 
children register for school due to lack of proper 
documentation. 
 
¶12.  In addition to IDP families that may lack the proper 
paperwork needed to register for their food ration, non- 
governmental organizations and WFP are also identifying many 
families that had their ration cards taken away by the 
former regime.  Marsh Arabs or families of opponents of the 
former regime were reportedly punished by having their 
ration cards revoked.  Estimates on the number of such 
families vary widely from 20 percent of the population in 
places like Al Amarah to only a handful of people in other 
towns. These individuals and families will also be enrolled, 
or reinstated into the PDS in June. 
 
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CONCLUSION 
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¶13.  The loss of documents in southern Iraq may pose special 
challenges to the CPA's ability to provide basic services 
and humanitarian assistance to the population.  As 
assessments continue to determine who has what, the 
rebuilding of data on the population of Iraq and their needs 
will resemble assembling a complicated jigsaw puzzle. 
Efforts are already ongoing to address this problem in each 
sector, often as a component of individual humanitarian 
assistance programs.  However, more targeted support to 
projects that are specifically addressing this crosscutting 
issue of documentation recovery and protection are needed. 
 
JONES