Cablegate: Tfiz01: Dart Assessment - Umm Qasr
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 KUWAIT 001121
STATE ALSO PASS USAID/W
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 USAID/AA:NATSIOS
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: TFIZ01: DART ASSESSMENT - UMM QASR
1. On 26 March, five members of the USAID/DART drove from
Kuwait City to Umm Qasr, Iraq to assess the prevailing
security and to examine the damage to port infrastructure.
Umm Qasr has an estimated population of 40,000 people and
two port areas. Currently, there is no electricity or
running water in Umm Qasr and fuel is scarce. Electricity
and potable water are provided from Basra, Iraq's second-
largest city. The focus of the DART assessment was the old
port area since the new port area is still considered
insecure. This is the first assessment in Iraq conducted by
a U.S. Government agency other than the U.S. military. End
2. Umm Qasr is Iraq's southernmost port community, home to
more than 40,000 Iraqis. The port was one of the conduits
for the Oil for Food Program and has the capacity to receive
sea freight bulk grain shipments. The port is divided into
a new port and old port with the capacity to receive ships
of 9.5 meter draft. The purpose of this assessment trip was
to determine if military forces were able to protect unarmed
humanitarian workers bringing food and supplies to alleviate
critical needs within Iraq.
3. The DART assessment team found that very little of the
old port infrastructure had been damaged or destroyed.
Ample warehouses, vacuum systems, vacuators, silos, silo
chutes, and some cranes appeared to be in good condition,
but the operational status of mechanical components was not
assessed due to a lack of electrical power. No bulk carrier
ships remained in the old port area and most likely departed
immediately prior to the start of the conflict. Off-loading
of ships will be less problematic once electricity and fuel
are available, however, no heavy trucks for transport were
seen in the port area.
4. The Port Authority building is in completely serviceable
condition with limited, superficial damage. The
Harbormaster's office was ransacked, however, and no
important logs or papers were found by the DART.
The warehouses along the port are made of corrugated metal
and labeled in both English and Arabic.
5. The warehouses are empty, except for 200 bags of sugar
and salt, which have not yet been tested to determine
suitability for consumption. There are also a substantial
number of trucking containers stored in the port. Some
looting occurred within the eight grain silos but the silos
were not destroyed.
6. The railroads that lead to the dockyards do not seem to
be used. There are three train engines located at the port,
and two of those are shunting engines, which appear new.
However, despite local reports that all the engines work,
the thick dust covering them, as well as the rust and dirt
covering the rails, indicate the engines have not moved for
7. There is a dredger in the water, which appears to be new
and in working order. There are also two tugboats in
similar condition as well as pilot vessels. None of the
vessels have yet been inspected.
8. There has been a positive response from local workers in
regard to employment at the port, and former workers have
been requested to return with lists of the critical skills,
components, and individuals necessary to reconstitute the
port. The response has been forthcoming and accurate to
9. The DART counted five vacuators. One was clearly
damaged; an air tank had been punctured, and a large hole
was visible on the side. The other four units appeared to
have been recently used. The engine cabinets were
padlocked, which would suggest that the motors may not have
been sabotaged, but the location of the keys is unknown.
The motors have not been inspected for improved explosive
10. Potable water and electricity were listed as the
immediate concerns by the local population, both of which
come from Basra. Until power and water are restored, the
port will not be able to operate at full capacity.
As an immediate solution, there is a plan to lay a pipeline
extending from Kuwait over the Iraqi border to provide
potable water for treatment within Iraq.
11. The British vessel, the Sir Galahad, is due in Umm Qasr
on 27 March, and the U.K. forces are looking for twenty port
workers to assist in offloading the humanitarian supplies.
The port is projected to receive 90 truckloads of
humanitarian aid in the next two to three days, and there
are plans for receiving 780 pallets of food and water. The
U.K. forces have some trucks to move the commodities into
one of the warehouses at the port. A list of commodities is
available at the HOC.
UMM QASR HOSPITAL AND LOCAL SCHOOLS
13. The DART was unable to assess the Umm Qasr hospital
because it remains in an insecure area. However, the
hospital reportedly has a three-month supply of medicine and
an English-speaking doctor but no running water. Iraqi
water tankers were observed on the road but the DART was not
able to immediately determine how this water was being used
or where it was being taken. Although there are between 20-
30 local schools in the Umm Qasr area, none have reopened
since the conflict began on 20 March.