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Cablegate: Dart Visit to an Najaf

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

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 05 KUWAIT 002296

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
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 VISIT TO AN NAJAF


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

1. DART Field Team West traveled to An Najaf on 24 May to
participate in special Marine and Army civil affairs
briefings for ORHA in which a 5 June mayoral election was
announced, possibly the first mayoral election in the
country. WFP and MOT told the DART that they were ready to
begin governorate-wide distributions by 1 June. MOT
offices remained intact during and after the war because MOT
personnel provided protection for their offices' own
assets. Doctors at the women's and children's hospital told
the DART that bad water, malnutrition, and poor sanitation
in An Najaf led to diarrhea in nearly every child patient
they treated. The IRC discussed with the DART a draft
proposal to address emergency water and sanitation issues in
both An Najaf and Karbala. End Summary.

--------------------------------------------- ------
WFP, MOT PREPARED FOR JUNE DISTRIBUTION IN AN NAJAF
--------------------------------------------- ------

2. U.N. World Food Program (WFP) staff in An Najaf said
there were no major problems with the public distribution
system (PDS) in An Najaf Governorate and that the MOT would
be ready to begin distributions on 1 June. According to
WFP, the An Najaf Ministry of Trade (MOT) offices were not
looted or damaged because MOT staff protected its assets,
including the PDS database. It is intact and will be
utilized during June's distribution. MOT continues to
provide its own security, and WFP said security at the
facilities was not a concern.
Flour agents are conducting some flour distributions as a
means to clear older stocks. This distribution is also
intended to avoid beneficiary discontent. Apparently,
current flour stocks are of a lower quality flour than the
new flour supplies due in from WFP. Problems will arise if
some beneficiaries receive the lesser quality flour at the
same time their neighbors receive the new higher quality
flour. WFP said all beneficiaries would receive the new
flour during June distributions.

3. WFP reports a shortage in several ration commodities in
An Najaf stocks, particularly pulses. Stock inventories
indicate that An Najaf has no pulses, weaning cereal or
adult milk. WFP will attempt to locate and supply An Najaf
with the short commodities and is preparing public service
announcements detailing the June ration. (Note: Sufficient
quantities of dried whole milk for the adult ration are
missing from the nationwide pipeline. End Note.)

4. WFP is aware that An Najaf has five government-supported
hospitals, and institutions that feed orphans, the elderly,
and the disabled. WFP plans to work with MOT to ensure that
patients in these institutions will be included in future
distributions. WFP has also discussed re-registration
issues with the MOT and said that the registration center
will be prepared to immediately adjust and correct any
registration errors and define procedures for those who have
lost their ration cards.
WFP has an eight-person staff in An Najaf and plans to hire
two additional employees. The estimated distribution period
for June will last 15 days.

------------
OTHER ISSUES
------------

5. WFP staff had no information on what, if any, role it
would play in the planned purchase of local wheat grain.

6. No LPG supplies have arrived in An Najaf since March.
The Marines report that four tankers of LPG were inbound on
24 May but said this will not fully address the LPG
shortage.

7. An Najaf has received recent supplies of wheat and rice
and MOT has begun milling wheat at five fully functional
mills. Electricity coverage is at approximately 40 percent,
but all mills have generators and fuel.

--------------------------
AN NAJAF PROTECTION ISSUES
--------------------------

8. During the Civil Affairs orientation meeting, Coalition
forces explained that An Najaf will be the first city in the
country to hold general mayoral elections. Voters need to
be over 18 years of age, have An Najaf residency for over
six months, and have no criminal record. Candidates must
be over 40 years old with An Najaf residency for over six
months and a clean criminal record. The election date is
set for 5 June, and it has become somewhat controversial
because several political parties with different religious
affiliations will be running, notwithstanding that the
interim mayor is Sunni in a primarily Shia community.
Coalition forces will be monitoring the elections to ensure
they are conducted safely and freely; however, issues of
intimidation and retribution may become a factor prior to,
during, and after these elections.

9. On the legal side, judges, including the chief judge,
were appointed (12 judges were removed because of Ba'ath
party affiliation), and the justice system is beginning to
take shape. An Najaf is in need of a courthouse since the
previous one was destroyed in the fighting. The prison is
co-located at the training academy and major repairs to the
building are apparently needed.

10. Security continues to be an issue in An Najaf. Six
patrols per day are being conducted by Coalition forces and
will eventually be handed over to the military police (MP).
A police academy has begun training police recruits. As of
24 May, 680 police have been trained by 74 MPs. The first
phase of the training is a two-day focus on community
policing. They are planning on conducting phase two, which
consists of a five-day program focusing on specialized
skills.

11. Another Coalition source mentioned that there were five
known mass graves in the area and that there might be many
others. The local community looking for loved ones have
disinterred many, if not all of these five sites. The
Coalition source estimates that approximately 400,000 people
were killed in that area alone and that people were still
disappearing until the war began in March. Although there
have not been any specific retribution issues thus far, the
Coalition source did say that a list has been circulating
with 75 names that says, "Your day is coming; retribution is
at hand." He is attempting to locate a copy of this list.
The DART shared a copy of the Office of Transition
Initiative's two-page abuse prevention handout with the
Coalition forces. There appears to be no human rights
organizations in An Najaf.

--------------------------------------------- ------
VISIT TO AN NAJAF'S HOSPITAL FOR WOMEN AND CHILDREN
--------------------------------------------- -------

12. Doctors at the An Najaf Hospital for Women and Children
told the DART that 85 to 90 percent of new child patients
suffer from diarrhea, and they suspect that some may suffer
from cholera. The 200-bed hospital also receives two to
three malnutrition patients everyday. The doctors with whom
the DART spoke did not know if the diarrhea and malnutrition
rates were higher than normal for this time of year. The
immunizations program, which had slowed prior to the war,
has now ceased. The infant mortality rate increased during
the war due to increased pressure on the staff and
insecurity, although staff continued to work. The hospital
staff and nearby residents combined to ward off would-be
looters.

13. The hospital has running water most days of the week,
and the electrical power is "on and off." A doctor said it
takes ten minutes from the time the electricity goes down to
the time the generator-powered electricity goes
on-dangerously affecting the low-weight babies in the
incubators. Sometimes, two babies are placed in one
incubator because of demand and broken down equipment.
Sanitary and sewage conditions, described by one doctor as
"so bad," are in poor condition. A receiving room was
teeming with flies. There is one functioning telephone line
for the entire hospital, and the air-conditioning unit is
failing. The doctors said the hospital requires about ten
oxygen cylinders each day. It now rations two. One staff
member said two to three children die each day for lack of
oxygen. Some residents are staying away from the hospital
because they realize there are drug and equipment shortages;
others because of service charges. The doctors admitted
that many of the hospital's problems existed for years.

14. There are shortages of many drugs and supplies,
including IV fluids and antibiotics. "The most important
drugs are finished," said a female doctor. If she could
change one thing in the hospital, she said she would abolish
the hospital's self-financing system that is burdensome on
poor patients. Of the hospital's 38 specialized doctors, 23
are female. The new hospital director was elected over three
other candidates late last month. Hospital staff received
their USD 20 emergency payments, but not their regular April
or May salaries yet.

15. Last week, doctors said a Red Crescent Society (of
unknown origin) delivered a small quantity of drugs, and
CARE recently delivered lactose-free milk and high-protein
biscuits. The doctors said no other agency had visited
after the war, though Coalition representatives had come
several times. It was unknown whether drugs were available
in the governorate's drug warehouse. An Najaf governorate
has a total of five hospitals, three of them in An Najaf
city, and 14 primary health centers.

-----------------------------------------
SPECIAL CIVL AFFAIRS BRIEFING IN AN NAJAF
-----------------------------------------

16. The DART attended special Office of Reconstruction and
Humanitarian Assistance (ORHA) briefings on 24 May in An
Najaf by both the Marines and Army civilian affairs teams.
The city's hospitals were referred to as "atrocious." The
Coalition forces have yet to provide assistance to
hospitals, and non-governmental organizations and others
have contributed only small quantities of drugs. The sewer
system is old and needs to be rehabilitated. At full
capacity, it would only service 20 percent of the city.
They said the incoming water is chlorinated, although its
filters needed to be replaced and some pumps and motors
overhauled.

17. Coalition forces said diesel fuel was needed for An
Najaf's power plant. One turbine is currently running; two
are not. He said that if all three were running, they would
provide only 40 percent of the city's electrical needs.
Fifteen trucks delivered gas yesterday, and four LPG trucks
were expected today.

18. Neither teachers, nor hospital employees, have been
paid April salaries yet, though they had received their USD
20 emergency payment. Coalition forces said some teachers
were leaving their schools to earn money elsewhere. The
textile industry, once a large employer in An Najaf, is
suffering because a large textile factory was destroyed in
the war. Coalition forces also said another large industry,
date production, might be harmed because it was too late to
aerial spray the date trees.

JONES

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