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Cablegate: Public Food Distribution and the Harvest In

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 002416

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: PUBLIC FOOD DISTRIBUTION AND THE HARVEST IN
NORTHERN IRAQ

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

1. WFP international staff will soon establish a full-time
presence in Mosul, with responsibility also for At Tamim and
Salah ad Din governorates. WFP, working with the MOT, is
providing food to hospitals and social institutions in
Mosul. WFP/Kirkuk reports that insecurity, salaries, and
the need for MOT office equipment are the biggest obstacles
limiting the quick revival of a successful PDS in At Tamim
governorate. PUK officials in As Sulaymaniyah have
expressed concern to WFP about the backlog of distributions
and the need for retroactive distributions. Discussion is
ongoing in the three northern governorates whether it is
best for WFP to procure the wheat harvest as whole grain or
wheat flour. End Summary.

-----
MOSUL
-----

2. The U.N. Security Coordinator (UNSECOORD) conducted a
security assessment on 7 May of Mosul. U.N. World Food
Program (WFP) program and logistics staff are now traveling
daily to Mosul and Kirkuk. WFP is providing some support to
Ministry of Trade (MOT) food offices in Mosul and Kirkuk
(for example, two computers in each location) and minor
repairs to grain storage structures. The WFP northern
deputy responsible for Mosul and Kirkuk has arrived in Arbil
and will likely move to Mosul this coming week. She will
head up the team focusing on Ninawa and At Tamim
governorates.

3. The DART traveled to Mosul on 5 May and met with WFP
national staff, who reported that there is no shortage of
food in the city of Mosul. WFP also noted that when
security allows, they will conduct an assessment to look at
pockets of vulnerability.

4.
The Ministry of Trade (MOT) in Mosul on 12 May began to
distribute non-WFP commodities to the 30 percent of the
population who had not received March distributions (for
August), which were interrupted by the war. The MOT in
Kirkuk will similarly distribute wheat flour to the
approximately 30 percent there who did not receive the
August distribution in Ninawa. While cash is much more
important right now than food, with the current absence of
salaries, WFP believes that MOT distributions are
appropriate. Food is available in the markets, but at
approximately double pre-war prices. WFP and the MOT are
distributing to hospitals and social institutions because
there was concern that stocks were running dry.

5. WFP/Mosul reports that its relationship with Coalition
Forces has been helpful. The Coalition has posted 35
soldiers to guard the WFP stores every night, and has
recently provided WFP an additional 15,000 metric ton (MT)
capacity warehousing complex since WFP's own 13,000 MT
stores are now full. It contains 13,000 MT of wheat flour,
together with 640 MT lentils, 91 MT weaning cereal, and 600
MT vegetable oil. The wheat flour is a little less than
half that necessary for a normal monthly distribution in
Ninawa. The second warehouse is being guarded by "local
security." The Coalition Forces have also provided some
fuel to WFP.

6. WFP national staff believe the public distribution
system (PDS) has been the best mechanism for distribution -
in terms of fairness, dignity, organization and timeliness -
and should certainly be continued instead of setting up a
new system. Despite extensive looting of the MOT offices,
its staff members saved disks with food/flour agent and
beneficiary data, and the MOT local contract transporter
(from main warehouses to each food/flour agent) is still
available. This information, however, needs to be confirmed
with the MOT.

------
KIRKUK
------

7. The DART traveled to Kirkuk on 8 May and met with WFP
local staff. WFP/Kirkuk believes the silos and mills in the
governorate are generally in good condition, and the Civil
Military Operation Center (CMOC) personnel believe there is
approximately 130,000 MT in governorate silos. A 300,000 MT
harvest is due in the area next month. Coalition forces in
Kirkuk arranged an initial meeting with the MOT heads of
department on 6 May, an important step in reviving the
entire MOT structure.

8. WFP raised concern regarding the shortage of fuel to
enable farmers to bring their grain to market next month.
CMOC personnel noted that the Bayji refinery should soon be
repaired, allowing for sufficient fuel on the market in
approximately two weeks time.

9. WFP/Kirkuk raised the following as the greatest
constraints to quickly reviving the PDS: 1) Security of its
warehouses, currently guarded by local security; 2)
Replacement of MOT furniture and equipment that had been
looted; and 3) Salaries of MOT staff. The nationwide $20
emergency payments for each government employee are being
provided in Kirkuk, but employees remain concerned about
when they will receive their salaries and how much they will
be paid.

---------------
AS SULAYMANIYAH
---------------

10. Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) government officials
have expressed concern to WFP about the backlog of
distributions and the need for retroactive distributions.
(Note: While the rest of the country received double
rations since last fall, the northern three governorates
received wheat flour in single ration allotments, rather
than double. End Note.)

11. WFP agrees this could be an extremely sensitive issue,
given that the north has strongly supported the Coalition.
At the same time, DART and WFP recognize it does not make
sense to provide four-month flour rations (May through
August) to northern populations, especially when the
northern harvest looks promising.

----------------------
MAKHMUR SILO IN ARBIL
----------------------

12. The DART visited Makhmur silo in Arbil on 15 May. It
has a capacity of 100,000 MT in addition to 60,000 to 70,000
MT of open storage (similar to large swimming pool-sized
bins). The silo has been assessed by WFP and the Office of
Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance (ORHA), and
requires some minor repairs to become functional, and larger
repairs to be fully operational. The open storage, however,
is usable immediately. WFP believes that with minimal input
(approximately USD 25,000) the silo could handle
approximately 40,000 MT. A much larger investment would be
required to make it fully functioning (approximately USD
500,000). The surrounding fields of wheat and barley appear
very good, and barley has just begun to be harvested.

13. The DART met with Coalition Forces, based at the silo,
who are in charge of operations in Makhmur, a traditionally
Kurdish farming area that had been "Arabized" over the last
12 years. In the past few weeks, many Kurds have returned
to this part of Arbil district (which before the war was
under GOI administration in Mosul) and have displaced a
number of the Arab farmers who had settled there.

14. Coalition forces have been charged with enforcing an
agreement made some days ago between the Arbil Ministry of
Agriculture (MOA), Mosul authorities, and Makhmur leaders
(and facilitated by the Coalition) that the previous Kurdish
landowners and the Arabs who planted the current crop would
share the harvest equally.

15. The Coalition has tasked helicopters to patrol the huge
farming district and to arrest farmers who are currently
harvesting barley. The Coalition forces are also
confiscating machinery, until the farmer (primarily Kurdish
now) can prove he owns the land, and agrees to share the
harvest with any Arab who also has ownership documents. The
process requires a visit to the agriculture office, where
the "harvest authorization" clearance process is conducted.
It is reportedly straightforward and takes a short time,
allowing the farmer to quickly return to harvesting.
16. Coalition forces hope that this campaign will persuade
farmers to proactively seek clearance before harvesting.
While acknowledging that this is a short-term solution, and
there are a number of issues in the details (who pays for
the harvesting, how is the 50 percent split effected, etc.),
the Coalition views this as the best way to stave off
violence and ensure that the current crop is harvested
successfully. Thus far, it appears to be a successful
campaign, although farmers have only begun to harvest
barley; the real test will come in early June when the
substantial wheat crop matures.

----------------
LOCAL PURCHASE
----------------

17. Between 1994 and 1995 WFP procured, through CARE,
approximately 10,000 MT of wheat in the north. For the much
larger quantities expected this year, WFP believes that it
would be much easier to buy wheat flour in the north rather
than wheat grain, to obviate the need for WFP to conduct pre-
milling quality checks and undertake the milling itself.
WFP indicates that its procedures require a tender, rather
than working directly through the MOA. WFP is sending a
procurement officer to the north in the coming days to
explore the options.

18. By contrast, PUK ministry officials have suggested to
WFP/Sulaymaniyah that wheat grain could be distributed
rather than wheat flour from the harvest in the north. WFP
says it has previously had bad experiences with private
tenders for other goods when attempting to make a local
purchase (as businessmen tend to pool and inflate rates).
Consequently, WFP/Sulaymaniyah would prefer that the MOT's
Grain Board procure wheat nationwide. WFP could then
purchase from the Grain Board at a fixed rate.

19. According to WFP/Mosul, there may be some 250,000 MT of
wheat grain in government silos within Ninawa governorate
and 130,000 MT wheat in At Tamim governorate. These amounts
need to be confirmed. This wheat is part of the National
Strategic Reserve and falls under the jurisdiction of the
MOT. If the MOT chose to do so, the wheat could be fed into
the PDS.

JONES

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