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Cablegate: Dart Al Hillah Assessment

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 002105

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 WFP IZ
SUBJECT: DART AL HILLAH ASSESSMENT


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

1. DART Field Team West arrived in Al Hillah on 11 May. On
12 May, the DART visited a maternity and children's hospital
in Al Hillah, met with some local wakils, and met with
representatives of Save the Children/U.S. who were returning
through Al Hillah from a recent assessment of An Najaf and
Karbala. End Summary.

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

2. The DART visited the Babylon Maternity and Children's
Hospital in Al Hillah on 12 May and found it had full
electricity and water and sufficient stocks of most drugs
for one month. However, it is precariously short of oxygen,
IV fluids, antibiotics, and Pentostam, and has no blood-
testing capabilities. Also, the hospital suffers from a
shortage of fuel for its generator and ambulance and endures
chronic incubator problems and shortages of vaccines. The
sporadic immunization program ended at the onset of war, and
the Ministry of Health (MOH) has yet to pay salaries. Many
of the medical staff, who continued working throughout the
war, often thwarting would-be looters, reside at the
hospital to avoid the security risk of commuting.

3. The 380-bed hospital charges small fees for drugs in
order to raise funds for overhead and future drug
procurements from the MOH. Prior to the war, the hospital
had to pay 20 percent of its revenue to the Ministry of
Defense and five percent to the MOH. The hospital sees 150
to 200 patients a day, though during the war that number
increased to 350 because many health centers had closed.
Approximately 30 to 35 babies are born at the hospital each
day. There are 30 specialist doctors and 40 residents, half
of both are women. The other two hospitals in Al Hillah are
the Surgical Hospital and the General Hospital, which has a
pediatric ward. All of Al Hillah's primary health centers
are open.

4. The greatest problem for children is diarrhea. The four
doctors with whom we spoke said the rate was slightly higher
than normal for this time of year. A gynecologist at the
hospital, said that about 80 percent of the women she treats
are anemic. As a result, there is a significant birth-
weight problem. She said hypertension and bleeding were two
other serious problems among women.

5. Last week, CARE provided a two-month supply of
therapeutic milk and high-protein biscuits, and Medecins
Sans Frontieres visited recently, bringing milk and feeding
bottles. The International Committee of the Red Cross
(ICRC) has also visited. The staff said the Iraqi Red
Crescent Society was no longer functioning, and that it had
only worked on a limited basis before the war.

-------------------------------
ASSESSMENT BY SAVE THE CHILDREN
-------------------------------

6. A four-person team from Save the Children/U.S. came
through Al Hillah on their way back to Baghdad in order to
debrief team west on their two-day rapid assessments of
Karbala and An Najaf (two persons traveled to each city.)
Save/U.S. is planning on setting up small offices, comprised
of two expats and a small number of national staff in
Karbala and An Najaf.

7. In Karbala, Save/U.S. visited a pediatric hospital, a
number of schools, the Ministry of Education, religious
leaders, and civil affairs teams. The main problems in
Karbala include a shortage of life-saving drugs, increasing
cases of diarrhea (one doctor in the main hospital believes
that it is reaching epidemic proportions), severe lack of
protein in the diets of the hospital patients, and water and
sanitation issues (including lack of sanitation and
treatment of water facilities.) Save/U.S. did not encounter
any issues regarding unexploded ordnance (UXOs) in schools,
however, targeted water and sanitation interventions are
needed. The Save/U.S. also found pockets of internally
displaced persons (IDPs) living in empty lots around the
city; most seemed to be old caseload IDPs.

8. In terms of implementation plans in Karbala, Save/U.S.
would like to focus efforts on providing life-saving drugs,
small equipment, materials, and fresh food to hospitals,
providing support to the referral and supply system for
clinics, and addressing water and sanitation needs in
schools. Save/U.S. also reported that tensions are on the
rise between the local population and Coalition forces.

9. In An Najaf, the Save/U.S. team visited various
hospitals, schools and religious leaders. They found
increased cases of diarrhea, suspected cholera cases,
problems with sanitation and waste disposal, and suspected
problems with UXOs in school buildings. In the main
pediatric hospital, 70 percent of patients (about 170 per
day) have diarrhea. Of those, 10 to 20 percent are severe
(some seem to have symptoms of cholera.) About three to
four children per week are admitted to the hospital with
injuries related to UXOs.

10. In An Najaf, the sanitation and waste disposal system
is working at full capacity; however, this only meets 20
percent of the city's needs. Save/U.S. was told that
although many of the schools are open (about 50 percent of
schools in the city are open at this time), parents are
afraid to send their children because of possible UXOs in
buildings and lack of security in the area (mainly dealing
with looters and rumors of kidnappings.) Although looting
has been fairly minimal in An Najaf, it does continue to
occur. The Ministry of Social Affairs was looted of its
contents on 12 May; all records were also apparently
destroyed.

11. According to Save/U.S., the religious community has
stepped up in a very positive way since the war began. They
have been able to keep peace and cohesion amongst community
members, which has resulted in lower incidents of looting
and continued provision of basic services to the community.
Save/U.S. plans to provide medical assistance to some of the
hospitals with the most need and assist the Ministry of
Social Affairs to get up and running again, (assistance with
small-scale repair of the nursery/mental hospital for
children and adolescents in town).

----
FOOD
----

12. According to food wakils (distribution agents) in Al
Hillah, the public distribution system (PDS) is functioning
and all wakils are in place for future ration distributions.
The last food distribution was conducted during the first
week in May. Certain commodity shortages were reported and
some recipients voiced concern regarding the quality of
wheat and rice.

13. According to U.N. World Food Program national staff,
the two major Al Hillah food warehouses are intact though
minor repairs are needed such as locks and windows. Although
the warehouses are stocked, food distributions are hampered
by the presence of Coalition forces that have established
themselves inside the warehouse. Current warehouse
operations are allowed by coalition troops, but are limited
to approximately 60 trucks per day. Normal warehouse
operations can handle approximately 300 to 400 trucks per
day. The DART has also learned from Coalition forces that
this problem has been recognized and the coalition is
looking into correcting the problem. The DART will monitor
the issue.

14. The grain silo in Al Hillah is intact and stocked with
an estimated one-month supply of grain. All fifteen mills
that serve the Babil governate are operational with
electricity and back-up generators.

15. Several issues of concern include the shortages of
flour bags at the mills, the shortage of fuel, an increase
in fuel prices, and lack of salaries for Ministry of Trade
personnel.

JONES

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