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Cablegate: Tfiz01: Dart Assessment of Food, Water, and Health

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 001123

SIPDIS

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 OF FOOD, WATER, AND HEALTH
NEEDS IN UMM QASR


-------
SUMMARY
-------

1. On 27 March, the DART, with assistance from Coalition
forces, conducted an assessment of the food, water, and
health situation in Umm Qasr. With regard to the Coalition
military presence in Umm Qasr, the DART was impressed by the
priority being placed on providing security to the
community, involving the community in security and
assistance decisions, and respecting the local population's
desire to help themselves. While there are no urgent, life-
threatening needs at the moment, the population of Umm Qasr
is lacking protein-rich food and is dependant on water
distributions. End Summary.

----------
OVERVIEW
----------

2. Although the atmosphere in Umm Qasr is marked by
wariness, by the afternoon, people were out on the streets.
The Coalition forces report that trust is improving daily,
but it is obvious that the community, with the events of
1991 in clear memory, is waiting for proof that the regime
is, in fact, finished.

-------------------
SECURITY AND ACCESS
-------------------

3. The DART was repeatedly assured by Coalition forces that
security in Umm Qasr was under control and a humanitarian
presence was welcomed by the military. However, presently
there is no means to coordinate humanitarian assistance from
Kuwait City at the Kuwait - Iraq border. This issue needs
to be addressed immediately.

----
PORT
----

4. Heavy silting was visible in an aerial photograph of the
New Port waterway. Two dredgers were located that, while
not seriously damaged, are currently inoperable. However,
parts appear to be available on site and repairs are
underway. Lack of dredgers will not affect the arrival of
the Sir Galahad, which has a shallow draft. The Sir Galahad
is scheduled to arrive on 28 March following a one-day delay
due to the discovery of mines in the waterway at the lower
end of the Old Port. The ship is carrying approximately 230
metric tons of food and nonfood commodities.

5. Two back-up generators appear to be of sufficient power
to establish a separate electrical grid for the entire port.
They are not yet operational, due to a lack of ignition
capability. The Coalition forces are working to resolve the
issue.

6. There are five mobile vacuators at the port. The main
(silo) vacuator appears undamaged. Two appear to be
inoperable, but the remainder appear to have been used
within the past few weeks. They are diesel operated and as
of 27 March have not been operated.

7. The approximately 24 port silos have been swept for
mines and are reportedly empty. The warehouses have also
been swept and reported to be empty with the exception of
approximately 200 bags of sugar and salt.

----
FOOD
----

8. Despite the frenzy that accompanied Kuwaiti
distributions in Safwan on 26 March, Coalition forces and
local residents report that food is not an urgent need at
this time. Households reportedly have up to six-month
stores of staple commodities (flour/rice). However, there
is a need for canned meat. The Coalition forces described
Umm Qasr's population as "protein-starved".

9. Kuwaiti food boxes delivered to Umm Qasr were warehoused
by the Coalition forces. They have worked to establish an
organized community-based distribution process, entailing
one community representative from each of Umm Qasr's 85
neighborhoods. The representatives will collect food and
distribute it in their specific blocks. The Coalition
forces are working closely with four community leaders,
including a schoolteacher and the hospital's medical
director. It is hoped that this system might provide a more
accurate head count in the town. If the 85 community heads
represent the entire town, then there would be between 470
and 530 people living in each, if the total population of
Umm Qasr is between 45,000 to 50,000, as has been reported
to the Coalition forces.

10. Forty Public Distribution System (PDS) agents are
reported to have either fled Umm Qasr, or are laying low.
The DART was unable to obtain community-level verification
of the status of the PDS agents. The Coalition forces have
been told that the distribution agents were members of the
Baath Party and not trusted by the population. It is not
clear if community distrust applies to all agents, but the
Coalition forces indicated that they were not pursuing the
re-establishment of the PDS system.

11. The Coalition forces have supplied water to town
residents for the past two days via two mobile tankers,
which drive to different parts of the city for distribution.
Bottled water is opened prior to distribution to limit the
possibility that it is re-sold. The Coalition forces appear
willing to continue water distributions until the pipeline
is turned on, but welcomed the possibility of tankers
organized by UNICEF taking over until the water pipeline
comes on line.

-------
HEALTH
-------

12. A preliminary health assessment of the hospital in the
town of Umm Qasr revealed adequate pharmaceutical stocks for
three months, with the exception of medicines for certain
chronic care diseases. Patients who need more treatment are
referred elsewhere. The hospital sees approximately 10
malnourished children each week, although the staff did not
specify their diagnosis criteria. While the severe
malnutrition cases are referred to Basra, moderate or mild
cases are treated with commercial infant formula. At the
time of the DART visit, there were four inpatients, two
recovering from war-wounds. Of the seven doctors at the
hospital, only four remain. Similarly, 45 of the 70 nurses
are still at the hospital. The facility is dirty, poorly
equipped, and operating off a generator. The hospital staff
requested protein-enhanced canned food. The administrator
seemed to be caught between the need to reinforce the
regime's assertion that three months' medical stores had
been provided and the desire to wait two to three weeks to
let things settle down before putting together a list of the
hospital's needs.

------------
ELECTRICITY
------------

13. There are several large generators in Umm Qasr town,
which combined with the generators at the port, may be
sufficient to provide electricity to most of the town,
according to the Coalition forces. The town's main power
source is Umm Qasr, but residents reported a deterioration
of service in past months. There is evidence that many
residents are hooked into existing generators, but the
Coalition forces say they will not know the coverage until
the generators are turned on. The main hospital has a
functioning generator, and the Coalition forces reported
that there has not been a request for fuel from the
hospital.

-------
SCHOOLS
-------

14. At least 23 schools (18 primary) exist in Umm Qasr.
Many were being used for storage, and the Coalition forces
are in the process of clearing out large amounts of
ordinance. Community leaders are being encouraged to re-
open schools as they are cleared.

-----------
PROTECTION
-----------

15. General unrest after the fighting in Umm Qasr was
dominated by looting of government and regime supporter
properties. The Coalition forces believe that
revenge/retribution beatings and killings are probably
occurring, although no physical evidence has yet been
encountered. Baath Party members have been arrested and/or
are surrendering to the Coalition forces. The hospital
director either did not understand the protection questions
being put to him or did not feel comfortable discussing the
subject.

------------
CONCLUSIONS
------------

16. The DART identified the following challenges for
providing humanitarian assistance in Umm Qasr: shortage of
local interpreters, especially female; reaching vulnerable
populations; ensuring proper representation in
leadership/contacts; establishing a new system/staff for
World Food Program distribution; managing a possible
migration from Basra if distribution begins in Um Qasr and
people able to leave Basra.

JONES

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