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Cablegate: Dart Northern Iraq Update

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 002101

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 NORTHERN IRAQ UPDATE

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

1. According to MORAD, more than 1,000 families have returned
to their villages in southern Arbil governorate; one week ago the
number was 313. The most critical need in these villages is
water. There are between 130,000 and 140,000 MT of wheat (of
unknown quality) currently in MOT stores in Kirkuk, but,
according to WFP, several issues need to be addressed before the
PDS is resumed: security, MOT infrastructure, and MOT salaries.
According to the Ministry of Health in As Sulaymaniyah, health
priorities include vaccines, drugs, suturing materials,
communicable diseases, and training. UNHCR's Northern Iraq
Coordinator is advocating that IDPs not return to their home
villages at this time. However, UNHCR's Northern Iraq
Coordinator also stressed to the DART the importance of helping
those who have already returned and recognized that returns will
likely continue despite best efforts to delay them. End Summary.

------------------------------------------
MINISTRY OF RECONSTRUCTION AND DEVELOPMENT
------------------------------------------

2. The Ministry of Reconstruction and Development (MORAD) hosted
a coordination meeting on 10 May in Arbil. The DART, non-
governmental organizations (NGOs), international organizations
(IOs), and the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian
Assistance (ORHA) were in attendance.

3. The Minister began the meeting by providing an update on the
situation in southern Arbil Governorate. The Ministry led a tour
to that region earlier in the week to show humanitarian workers
those villages they hope to see repopulated by Kurdish IDPs. The
Minister stated there are now more than 1,000 families that have
returned to their villages, while one week ago the number was
313.

4. Emergency needs for these returnees were discussed, with
water being the most important. Thirteen villages are said to be
in urgent need of water. The United Nations Children's Fund
(UNICEF) stated that using water tankers to bring water into
villages was the most practical method for meeting short-term
needs. Shelter needs were also discussed, with UNOPS, REACH (a
local NGO), and Peace Winds Japan offering to look at the
provision of tents.

5. A representative from the Ministry of Humanitarian Aid and
Cooperation (MOHAC) stated that MOHAC is assessing the needs of
returnees and that an additional 966 IDP families, living in the
Duhok area, want to return to southern Arbil Governorate. The
NGOs and IOs present were asked to assist in the IDPs' return.

6. An ORHA representative stated that everyone must be cautious
about encouraging IDP movements. She said that the interim
authority must establish itself so that proper processes for
land, property, and other return issues can be addressed
properly. The ORHA representative also stated that the Kurdish
Regional Government (KRG) was not in charge of some areas where
IDPs wished to return, such as Kirkuk and Mosul, and that "we are
not in the process of moving boundaries." The Minister responded
to these remarks by saying that such issues should be brought up
at a higher political level and not in an NGO coordination
meeting. The ORHA representative then said that ORHA would have
preferred that those IDPs who already returned to their villages
had not done so.

7. A discussion ensued about whether or not providing assistance
to returnees would encourage others to return and, therefore,
whether or not assistance should be limited. Several NGO and IO
representatives told ORHA that the humanitarian agencies would
provide aid if needed and that people would return to their
villages regardless of politics. MORAD reiterated the need to
assist returnees.

(Comment: This rather tense discussion generated necessary debate
about the IDP and returnee issue in northern Iraq. The pressure
- real or perceived - on IDPs to repopulate regions south of the
green line will affect the political dynamics in this part of
Iraq. How the international community, especially ORHA, reacts
to this issue could have profound effects on the politics in
northern Iraq. End comment.)

-------------
WFP LOGISTICS
-------------

8. The DART met with WFP's logistics coordinator in Arbil, on 10
May, to discuss WFP capacity and its plans to step up the Public
Distribution System (PDS) in Mosul and Kirkuk. With between
130,000 and 140,000 metric tons (MT) of wheat (of unknown
quality) currently in Ministry of Trade (MOT) stores in Kirkuk,
and possibly 250,000 MT (also of unknown quality) in Mosul,
WFP/Logistics sees its first priority as cleaning out and making
minor repairs to silos and MOT warehouses. This includes milling
good grain, removing bad grain, and making storage complexes able
to absorb the upcoming harvest. WFP reports that cooperation
with MOT staff in Kirkuk has been good, and they will soon begin
collaborating in Mosul.

9. WFP noted that there are several issues that need to be
addressed as the PDS is resumed: security, MOT infrastructure,
and MOT salaries. Regarding security, Coalition forces are
guarding WFP warehouses in Mosul, and have arranged for local
police to guard WFP and MOT warehouses in Kirkuk. WFP is very
pleased with Coalition support, and they say Coalition-provided
local security in Kirkuk is helping strengthen the MOT's
confidence.

10. WFP will not re-equip looted MOT offices (they say this is
ORHA's job), but they will assist in silo and warehouse cleaning
and repairs (beginning Monday in Kirkuk) and provide some MOT
food staff office infrastructure at these complexes. WFP states
it will play a role in minor repair of storage infrastructure,
but that ORHA needs to support major repair and MOT office
equipment. Salaries are still a big issue as MOT employees in
Mosul and Kirkuk have yet to be paid the emergency USD 20
stipend, let alone a formal salary. Some employees of other
sectors, including railway staff and teachers for example, have
apparently been paid informally. (Comment: It would be
beneficial to inform government personnel when and how much they
will be paid. End comment.)

11. WFP is now able to travel on a daily basis to Kirkuk and
Mosul, although Mosul is still classified by the U.N. as Phase IV
security. WFP will soon have at least two international staff
based in Mosul (program and logistics) and at least one
international logistics officer in Kirkuk. WFP will concentrate
on getting things moving with MOT infrastructure and staff in
Kirkuk, and then focus on Mosul in the coming days. WFP reported
that Tikrit is the only area to which no food has yet been
delivered. Tikrit is still Phase V security, and the U.N.
Security Coordinator (UNSECOORD) has not yet visited. Given the
present security situation and restricted travel to Baghdad, WFP
envisions its staff gradually expanding its areas of operation
from the Kuwaiti border north to Baghdad and from Arbil south to
Baghdad. Therefore, Tikrit will likely be accessed, at least
initially, from the north.

---------------------------------
AS SULAYMANIYAH MINITRY OF HEALTH
---------------------------------

12. The DART visited the Ministry of Health in As Sulaymaniyah
on 11 May. The deputy minister and several directors provided a
general overview of the health system in As Sulaymaniyah
Governorate. Primary health care, vaccinations, nutrition,
malaria prevention, mobile health monitoring, and health
education programs were discussed, as was the relationship
between the Ministry and U.N. organizations.

13. Ministry officials state that health priorities include
vaccines, drugs, suturing materials, communicable diseases, and
training. Vaccine supply schedules have been erratic and, as a
result, often arrive with a short shelf life. Certain drugs and
other supplies are in short supply, and doctors are worried that
the supply pipeline will not open before current supplies are
exhausted. Communicable diseases are a major worry as summer
approaches; waterborne diseases and malaria are also of concern.
Training and general motivation of staff are other concerns in
the medical community. In the very near future, there will be
heavy demand for training programs in all health care sectors.

----------------
UNHCR's IDP ROLE
----------------

14. The DART met with the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees'
(UNHCR) Northern Iraq Coordinator on 12 May to discuss current
UNHCR activities. Over the last week, UNHCR has held meetings
and conducted assessments in Arbil, As Sulaymaniyah, and Tamim
Governorates and plans to depart for Dohuk Governorate on 13 May.
In meetings with KRG officials in Arbil and As Sulaymaniyah,
UNHCR's Northern Iraq Coordinator reports that he is advocating
that the governments dissuade IDPs residing in their governorates
from returning to their home villages at this time. UNHCR has
funds to support public information campaigns to explain that it
may be premature for IDPs to return home.

15. UNHCR's Northern Iraq Coordinator also stressed the
importance of helping those who have already returned and
recognized that returns will likely continue despite best efforts
to delay them. UNHCR, using flash appeal funds, has the capacity
to provide emergency shelter and non-food items (NFIs), as well
as supplies to build permanent homes for those who have already
returned. This includes those who recently returned to Makmour
in southern Arbil Governorate. While much attention has been
placed on Makmour, UNHCR's Northern Iraq Coordinator noted that
returns have also occurred in the other northern governorates.
UNHCR/Iraq has requested 2,000 tents from their stockpiles in
Turkey to meet the needs of those returning. More are available
if needed.

16. UNHCR explained that the IDP issue has been contentious
within the U.N. However, UNHCR's Northern Iraq Coordinator
believes that, while UNHCR will not be formally tasked, they will
have de facto lead on return and reintegration issues for several
reasons. UNHCR's Northern Iraq Coordinator noted that UNHCR has
prior experience working on protection and return issues, that
many of the issues related to return will be the same for
returning refugees and IDPs, and that many of the other U.N.
organizations are operationally restricted by the U.N. Security
Council Resolution (UNSCR) 986 umbrella.

17. There are three international UNHCR staff in Iraq. UNHCR
hopes to increase its international staff and open five offices
in Duhok, Arbil, As Sulaymaniyah, Mosul, and Kirkuk. UNHCR noted
that an updated reintegration plan and budget for Iraq would be
presented to donors in Geneva this week. UNHCR recognizes that
their role in returns and reintegration will be largely dependent
on the decisions of occupying forces. UNHCR's Northern Iraq
Coordinator noted that he had not yet met with anyone from OHRA.

JONES

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