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Cablegate: Old Caseload Idps in Southern Iraq

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 002138

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: OLD CASELOAD IDPS IN SOUTHERN IRAQ


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

1. DART Field Team South met on 6 May with two extended
families and their neighbors in a poor section of Basrah to
assess their water and food needs. Most inhabitants of the
area are Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), some of who
have been squatting on other people's land since the Iran-
Iraq war in 1980. The families said that since the recent
hostilities began six weeks ago, their greatest concerns are
a lack of security, scarcity of cooking fuel, dwindling
incomes, and the threat of being forcibly evicted from homes
they have been living in for many years. End Summary.

----------
BACKGROUND
----------

2. The DART, assisted by two women who work as monitors for
the U.N. World Food Program, met for two hours with two
families, of ten members each, in the Abo Al Khsib
neighborhood in south-central Basrah. The group discussed
their concerns about food, security, and other issues. Both
families, as well as some of their neighbors, were displaced
from the Faw peninsula. One family was forced to leave in
the Iran-Iraq war in 1980. The other family fled their home
in the first Gulf war in 1990.

3. The Abo Al Khsib neighborhood is in a poor section of
town in south-central Basrah, where the two families and
their neighbors live in an adjoining series of one-story,
mud-brick rooms, built around small courtyards. The rooms
have earthen floors, and those used as sleeping quarters are
covered by a carpet remnant and woven straw mats.

-----------------
CURRENT SITUATION
-----------------

4. Most family members and their neighbors said security
was their primary concern. One woman said the `bad
elements' in the area, recognized by everyone in the
neighborhood before the war, have now enriched themselves by
looting guns and food commodities. She said the criminals
often roam the area, settling disputes by shooting people.

5. Another woman complained about the lack of propane gas
for cooking fuel. She said she has spent an average of
7,000 Iraqi dinars every three to four days to buy a
wagonload of palm wood to use as fuel. Before the war, she
says four canisters of propane gas for an entire month cost
1,200 Iraqi Dinars. Now, she has empty gas canisters but
cannot find fuel in the market.

6. The water situation in the neighborhood has improved
with non-potable water running in pipelines, which before
the war were empty. However, obtaining drinking water is
still a challenge; a U.N. Children's Fund water tanker was
delivering drinking water during the visit by the DART, but
it was only the third such trip to the area since the start
of the war.

7. When asked whether their families had enough food, the
DART was told that the rations under the Oil for Food
Program were never enough to feed their families. They said
all the commodities ran out before the end of the month, and
that the milk ration ran out quickly. They felt that a
double package of rations would be sufficient to meet their
needs for one month. They received double rations in
February to cover the months of April and May, and the last
distribution of a double ration, distributed in mid-March,
one week before the war began, was referred to as the
June/July distribution. One family had only part of the
wheat flour and rice rations left.

8. The families say food prices in the Basrah market have
fluctuated almost daily since the war. Some items, such as
vegetable oil and sugar, commodities largely looted from a
local warehouse and which now glut the market, are less
expensive. They cited as examples the prices of several
staple items: pre-war one kilogram (kg) of tea cost 2,000
dinars; the same amount now costs 3,000 dinars. Before the
war, one kg of powdered milk cost 500 dinars; it is now
5,000 dinars. One kg of rice was 250 dinars before the war;
it is now 350 dinars. One kg of sugar, which was 600 dinars
before the war, is now 250 dinars. One kg of vegetable oil
was 600 dinars before the war; it now costs between 300 and
500 dinars.

9. One of the extended families, with four sons and seven
daughters, relies on the income of one male head of
household. Before the war, he had a job as a construction
worker, earning between 2,000 and 2,250 Iraqi dinars per day
but now earns only between 1,000 and 1,500 dinars per day
mowing grass for animal feed.

10. The other family has four sons and three daughters.
All of the sons are educated, one having a Master's degree,
but none can find a full-time job. A daughter, who is a
teacher, had to stop working just before the war to give
birth to a child.

11. The two families had a small reserve of livestock: one
sheep, that was being fattened for slaughter, and four
goats.

12. Another concern expressed by the two families and their
neighbors was eviction from their homes. They said
government officials came to the area last year,
confiscating all their furniture and demanding that they
vacate the premises. Now, they fear, some other official or
landowner will come and demand the same. They asked the
DART if it could help, and give them guidance on what
recourse they have if such an action were to take place.
13. The DART has notified the International Organization
for Migration (IOM), which has been given the mandate to
care for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Iraq, about
the existence of the IDPs in the neighborhood. IOM says it
will follow up on the areas visited by the DART.

JONES

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