Cablegate: Dart Assessment of Al Tash Refugee Camp
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 002108
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 ASSESSMENT OF AL TASH REFUGEE CAMP
1. The DART conducted an assessment of the Al Tash Refugee
Camp near Ar Ramadi on 9 May. Based on meetings with the
camp council and movement through the camp, the DART
determined there is not a critical humanitarian situation
within the camp. End Summary.
2. The Al Tash Refugee Camp is located approximately 12
kilometers (km) south of the Iraqi city of Ar Ramadi and
approximately 110 km west of Baghdad. The camp has been in
place for 23 years, and the population consists of ethnic
Kurds from Iran. In 1982, the population of the camp was
reported to be approximately 45,000. The DART was told that
many of that number repatriated and others emmigrated to
third countries. Currently, the camp population is reported
to be 12,000 people (2,000 families), equally divided
between political refugees and those that arrived during the
Iran/Iraq war. Over the last six weeks, approximately 1,100
people from the camp have moved to the Jordanian border.
Approximately three families leave the camp daily for the
border region. There was an International Committee of the
Red Cross (ICRC) presence in the camp from 1983 until 1988.
Until recently, there has been a United Nations High
Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) presence in the camp.
3. A UNHCR facility within the camp appeared to be in very
good condition. The UNHCR personnel left just prior to the
recent conflict and have not returned. In discussions with
the town council, it was quite apparent that there was much
displeasure with the UNHCR personnel that had been assigned
to the camp. It was reported that letters requesting
repatriation that had been given to UNHCR staff, had not
been forwarded for action. It is felt that the UNHCR will
have to do much damage control in order to mend its
relationship in the village.
4. The DART met with the camp council for approximately one
hour. Various issues were covered, but two demands were
adamantly stressed. The first demand was for the
repatriation of approximately one-half the population. The
second was the resettlement of the remaining camp population
that consider themselves political refugees, to third
countries. It was noted that most would accept, as a
temporary solution, resettlement in Kurdish areas of Iraq.
The camp council also told the DART that camp residents
suffered from disorder and insecurity during the current
post-conflict period. Prior to the conflict, each family
received a payment of 250 dinars every two months.
5. Food has been distributed within the camp through the
Public Distribution System (PDS). The last distribution
took place during the first week of May and consisted of
tea, sugar, and salt. The council told the DART that the
last two distributions have not included rice and that there
is a lack of oil and rice. Current food stocks consist of
flour, tea, sugar, and salt. These stocks are sufficient to
last until August. Of concern to camp residents was the
fact that due to the loss of the family stipend, there is no
way to access vegetables, wheat, or rice to supplement food
stocks. Women within the camp claim that they have adequate
food resources; however, as noted above, the list does not
include protein-rich foods or essential oils.
6. The camp receives its water from a pumping station one
km from the camp. The DART visited the pumping station on
its way to Al Tash. At the time of the visit, no operator
was on site, but local residents were present. The pumping
station uses the Euphrates River as its source of water and
had, until recently, stored the untreated water in two above
ground storage tanks, with an approximate capacity of
200,000 liters. The local residents present at the station
said that the pumps that transfer water to the Al Tash camp
had not functioned for two weeks. The pumps appeared to be
in good condition, and the cause of the disfunction could
not be determined. Water continues to be distributed to the
camp by a gravity-fed cast iron pipe one km to the camp.
7. The water at the pumping station was tested for chlorine
and no residual chlorine was detected. Residents of the
camp reported low pressure due to numerous leaks, many due
to residents along the pipe's course tapping into the line.
The camp has a small water pumping station, which receives
water from the main pumping station. The pump station had a
pressure pump and a partially buried water storage tank.
The storage tank capacity could not be determined.
8. Two backup generators, one 100-kilovolt amperes (kva)
and one 250-kva, provide power to the water system when
electricity to the camp is not available. An operator was
present at the site and provided information on the
distribution of water in the camp. The operator has
maintained records of his pumping and distribution
activities. Water is distributed through iron pipes to
homes in the camp. The camp water distribution system is
divided into 34 sectors. Water is distributed to sectors of
the camp for one hour every 15 days. During this time
homeowners fill their individual storage tanks. Water
storage capacity in homes visited ranged from 2,000 to 5,500
liters. Individual homeowners owned metal and concrete
tanks and the homes visited appeared to have adequate
quantities stored in their water tanks.
9. In moving through the camp, the DART noted that the
streets were relatively clear of rubbish. Open ditches are
used to transport wash water from the homes to a ditch
outside the camp. These ditches were clogged with garbage.
No discharge of sewage from toilet facilities to the ditches
was observed. Residents stated that sewage is not
discharged to the ditch. Toilet facilities within
residences consisted of water seal toilets directly above
cesspits. The toilets visited were clean and well
maintained. General overall hygiene is poor. Hygiene
issues could probably be addressed with a more frequent
water delivery schedule as well as hygiene education.
10. As the camp was visited on a Friday, the small clinic
that serves the camp's medical needs was closed. Normally,
patients with acute problems are referred to the Ar Ramadi
hospital. A pharmacist who accompanied the DART Health
Specialist throughout the assessment staffs the camp clinic.
There is neither a physician nor a nurse in the camp. There
are a number of chronic diseases in the camp such as
thallasemia, cancer, epilepsy, mental illness, anemia,
tuberculosis, asthma, chronic eczema, and alopecia. All of
these receive less-than-optimal follow-up but are typical of
chronic neglect that the camp has received for many years.
No cases of chronic or acute malnutrition were identified.
11. It was reported that the end of the former regime has
led to an increased resistance from the Arab-run hospital at
Ar Ramadi to treating the camp population without immediate
payment. Cost of services, both acute and chronic follow-
up, has also escalated at the Ar Ramadi hospital. During
the DART visit, much attention was given to about a half-
dozen children who suffered flash burns resulting from
igniting toys containing gunpowder. All the burns were
first-degree and superficial second-degree that were treated
with salves and were healing. Two cases of typhoid were
noted. Both cases are under appropriate treatment and are
12. There is not a humanitarian crisis within the camp.
The situation within the camp appears to not have changed
significantly in the recent past, with the exception of the
loss of the small stipend. Nutrition issues could become a
concern if protein sources and vegetables are not
obtainable. The concerns of the camp residents concerning
their future options should be addressed by the UNHCR when
staff are allowed to return to Al Tash.