Cablegate: Dart Visit to Ad Diwaniyah

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A


1. Four members of DART Field Team West traveled to Ad
Diwaniyah, Qadisiyah governorate between 21 and 22 May. The
DART met with the local Governorate Support Team, various
CMOC members, the Director General of the MOH, a team of
doctors from the local maternal/pediatric hospital, WFP,
Iraqi Red Crescent, and DART implementing partner Mercy

2. Overall, Ad Diwaniyah is facing a situation similar to
most other cities in the upper south. Basic services
(electricity, water, health care, PDS, etc.) have returned
to pre-war levels. However, these systems are vulnerable
for a variety of reasons (lack of re-supply for health
facilities, lack of chlorine and spare parts to repair
equipment in water/sewage systems, etc.), and there are
pockets of need in outlying villages - particularly with
regard to water and sanitation. In addition, there are
numerous opportunities for transition initiatives that would
have a quick and positive impact on the community. The city
is not experiencing an immediate humanitarian emergency, but
is faced with chronic vulnerabilities, which threaten to
become worse given disruptions to centralized distribution
systems and centralized decision making. End Summary.


3. The DART participated in two Governorate Support Team
(GST) meetings during its visit to Ad Diwaniyah. The GST is
currently transitioning from a Marine battalion to an Army
Civil Affairs unit. The Marines have been very active in
standing up the local government and the justice system;
ensuring that water, sewage, and garbage collection are
functioning; collecting and disposing of arms and unexploded
ordnance (UXOs); and rehabilitating schools.

4. Coalition forces have begun using seized Ba'ath party
funds to finance the rehabilitation of the city hall. City
hall was thoroughly looted, but only after former-Ba'ath
party officials set fire to government documents inside the
building. The rehabilitation is focused on one wing of the
building and will provide 17 offices and two conference
rooms by mid-June. These funds are also being used to
rehabilitate a "model school". In the meantime, the GST is
soliciting U.S. Department of Defense ODAHCA funds for
several projects ranging from support to police units to
repair of city sewage systems.

5. There are currently no non-governmental organizations
(NGOs) based in Ad Diwaniyah, although Mercy Corps
International (MCI) and Solidarites have shown interest in
working there (see below).


6. Doctors at the Maternal and Child Hospital of Ad
Diwaniyah reported that the hospital suffered from a number
of problems, including no staff salaries, a lack of some
essential drugs and oxygen, cooling system breakdowns, a
shortage of fuel for ambulances, and insecurity. However,
the hospital's interim director admitted to the DART that
many of the hospital's current problems also existed before
the war. "We have almost the same problems; the same
difficulties," he said. The hospital has 260 beds and 24
specialist doctors, 14 whom are women.

7. The doctors estimated that 70 percent of the 100 to 150
children they treat daily suffer from diarrhea, and about
one third of these patients have severe diarrhea. They said
this number is comparable to rates of previous years.
Doctors said there was adequate supply of water in Ad
Diwaniyah, but that the quality was poor, leading to
diarrhea problems. Poor rural residents are often forced to
obtain water straight from canals. Doctors said there used
to be diarrhea-prevention and other health-education
messages broadcast on the now-defunct Iraqi television

8. The hospital's nutrition rehabilitation center closed
one year ago because deliveries of therapeutic milk and high
protein biscuits stopped. A few days ago, CARE delivered 40
cartons of lactose-free milk, biscuits, cheese, blankets,
and detergents. Medecins Sans Frontieres-Holland, the
International Rescue Committee (IRC), and MCI had also
visited over the last three weeks. There are approximately
20 to 30 babies born at the hospital each day, though
doctors said the majority of babies in Ad Diwaniyah are
delivered in special birthing facilities, often with
assistance from traditional birth attendants.

9. Doctors said up to 80 percent of their female adult
patients had anemia, and that most babies were born
underweight. The number of female patients at the hospital
has greatly declined since the war because of medication
shortages. As a result, admissions at private clinics have
increased. Doctors said the hospital's electricity supply
was adequate, albeit erratic, and that its immunization
program was ongoing. The hospital had telephone
communications within Ad Diwaniyah only.

10. Qadisiyah's Minister of Health said that all the
hospitals in the governorate would hold departmental
elections next week to choose hospital directors, and chiefs
of nursing, pharmacies, engineering, and other sections.
The Minister also said that the Ministry of Health (MOH) in
Baghdad instructed health facilities nationwide to carry out
in-house elections.

11. To deal with donations, he said the three hospitals in
Ad Diwaniyah had each set up special teams to accept and
distribute donated drugs and medical supplies. The
governorate drug warehouse is operating, but has not
received any drugs from Baghdad since the war. The Minister
said it would be preferable to donate drugs directly to the
hospitals rather than to the drug warehouse. He added that
MOH Baghdad informed him all future MOH drugs would be
distributed to health facilities at no cost, and that
hospitals would soon be forbidden to charge patients for
drugs. Currently, most hospitals charge patients a 30
percent markup to cover their overhead costs.


12. Team West met with DART cooperative agreement partner
MCI in Diwanyah to discuss potential interventions,
including essential drug distribution and water and
sanitation activities in and around the city. MCI suggested
an integrated health and water and sanitation project could
significantly reduce the debilitating childhood diarrhea
problem in Ad Diwaniyah and its surrounding villages. MCI
has visited Ad Diwaniyah several times, and is now
establishing an office there. It will soon send a water and
sanitation engineer, a health officer, and support staff to
focus on developing and implementing projects.

13. MCI established its first base in neighboring Al Kut
rather than in Ad Diwaniyah because the security situation
was more permissive there. It said it will coordinate its
potential activities closely with city and governorate
officials, Solidarites, which will carry out rural water
projects, the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian
Assistance (ORHA), Bechtel, the Governorate Support Team,
and CARE, which conducts activities in Ad Diwaniyah. ORHA
and Bechtel representatives visited water and sewage plants
in Ad Diwaniyah Wednesday, and Bechtel expressed interest in
improving water and sanitation services in the city.


14. The DART spoke with the Coalition officer who is
transitioning out as the justice officer (an army lawyer
will be taking over for him). The Coalition officer
explained that things are moving along smoothly in the
region - approximately 33 judges in Qadisiyah have been
recently appointed, 113 criminals have been through the
interim justice system in the last three days in Diwanyah,
and a makeshift prison has been established since the
original prison was destroyed in the war. His major concern
is the lack of police in town and continued lawlessness,
especially in the outlying areas. The military was planning
to begin a training of trainers program for police officers
the next day. Thus far, approximately 25 recruits will be
attending the training. The officer has seen no significant
evidence of acts of retribution thus far, but looting sprees
and peaceful protests continue. The officer also reported
that a small mass grave was found in the former Ba'ath Party
security complex. The bodies of 12 men were found bound and
blindfolded. According to the officer, his superiors deemed
this site a "humanitarian issue" and not evidence of a war
crime and turned over the bodies to local religious leaders,
who in turn, returned them to their families.

15. The DART briefly visited with the Director of the Iraqi
Red Crescent Society (IRCS). IRCS is comprised of eight
permanent staff and over 100 volunteers. Most worked
throughout the war, assisting war wounded and vulnerable
families (including those who lost their homes during the
war.) IRCS is not currently working on particular projects
because of lack of funds. They are mostly focusing on
delivering donations of food, non-food items, and medicine
(from ICRC and others) to the local elder care institution,
and local hospitals and orphanages. IRCS has forged a very
good relationship with MCI and explained that upon the
mayor's request, MCI's presence in town was announced on
local television and radio.


16. The DART met with WFP, representatives from the Civil
Military Operations Center (CMOC), and Ministry of Trade
(MOT) managers to discuss the public distribution system
(PDS) in Qadisiyah governorate and to determine possible
bottlenecks that would disrupt the planned 1 June PDS start
date. The DART did not identify any major problems in
Qadisiyah that would threaten to delay the start date.

17. WFP and the DART are concerned about the stability of
the MOT. The MOT has made several personnel changes during
the past week, including the removal of the MOT manager. WFP
and the DART met with the present, acting manager and are
hopeful that he will win the confidence of MOT and will be
selected as the permanent manager within the week.
Consistent management will be essential during the June

18. Due to the recent management changes, the emergency USD
20 payment to MOT staff has yet to be delivered. According
to the CMOC, the paperwork is complete and payment will be
made once the decision of a new manager is made. This should
be resolved within the next few days.

19. The CMOC has received several lists from MOT that
detail looted or needed equipment for the silo, warehouse,
registration center and grain board. CMOC has agreed to
review the lists, conduct CMOC assessments at the MOT
locations and if viable, submit requests for funding to
purchase the items and make the repairs. CMOC is also
working with the community to retrieve some of the looted

20. The DART briefed the CMOC on the need for properly
trained security officers for the MOT facilities and
described the CMOC training program in Al Hillah. CMOC
representatives will work with MOT and CMOC security to
determine if a similar program could include MOT security
personnel in Ad Diwaniyah.

21. The DART and CMOC visited two grain storage sites that
had been identified as viable wheat supplies for the PDS.
According to WFP, these sites hold an estimated 60,000
metric tons of wheat grain. The quality and age of this
grain is uncertain, but CMOC agreed to follow-up with MOT to
inventory the grain and have it tested for suitability for
human consumption. If the grain is deemed safe for human
consumption, it could be used for some of the wheat ration
in June. According to WFP, this is Iraqi wheat purchased by
the Grain Board.

22. WFP confirmed the food stock numbers at Ad Diwaniyah
and determined there would be a shortage of pulses and oil.
WFP will try and obtain these commodities from surrounding
governorate overstocks. The total June distribution cycle
for Qadissiyah is 15 days.

23. WFP will work with several feeding programs to provide
food for the orphanage, an elderly home, a mentally disabled
home and several hospitals. The total rations for these
feedings will be 864.

24. WFP stated that the MOT understands that some people
were punished by having their names stricken from the PDS
roles. The MOT plans to re-register these people so that
they can receive PDS rations in June. The MOT will also
ensure that those who have lost their ration cards or had
them confiscated for reasons of punishment will be included
in the June ration.

25. WFP staff conducted a taste test on the navy white bean
provided for distribution. The results of this test was
"Good smell and tasty."


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