Cablegate: Dart Western Iraq Update

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. Following multiple trouble-shooting visits with WFP and
Ministry of Trade teams in the upper south region of Iraq,
the DART Field Team West Food Officer believes the public
distribution system is prepared to meet June distribution
expectations. Upcoming visits to Al Muthanna and Wasit
Governorates are planned to monitor distribution progress.
DART cooperative-agreement partner CARE visited Al Hillah on
29 May to share its proposed water and sanitation
implementation plans, including a proposal to make emergency
repairs on a water treatment system in Al Hillah that serves
750,000 people.

2. DART Field Team West conducted a follow-up visit on 28
May to a mass gravesite near Al Hillah to observe exhumation
processes, meet with a new human rights organization, and
update civil-military officers. Civil Affairs (CA) officers
in Al Hillah reported on 27 May that a local newspaper
reporter was bludgeoned to death allegedly by a pro-Saddam
group that left a note warning locals against working with
the Coalition. End Summary.


3. Progress on several public distribution system (PDS)
issues in Al Hillah are nearing resolution. Once resolved,
the DART believes that the June distribution will be more
efficient. The DART has facilitated an arrangement between
the civil-military operations center (CMOC) security
representatives and the Ministry of Trade (MOT) silo and
warehouse management to include MOT security personnel in a
four-day police and security guard training program. The
MOT has prepared the list of names of its personnel and will
submit the list to the CMOC. It is hoped that some of the
MOT security guards will be included in the 1 June class.

4. The DART has arranged for the CMOC to review a MOT
inventory list of missing or damaged items at the warehouse
facility for possible replacement. According to the CMOC,
the validated items would be replaced or repaired.
Coalition forces had occupied portions of the warehouse
grounds until about 10 days ago.

5. The DART has notified the CMOC that some MOT warehouse
personnel have not received their USD 20 emergency payments.
CMOC will begin distributions of the USD 20 payments as soon
as MOT submits its list.

6. The DART has arranged for the issuance of a letter from
a Coalition commander in Babil Governorate to the MOT silo
manager stating that silo management has the authority to
purchase spare parts without requesting approval from the Al
Hillah governor's office. This authority will expedite any
repairs needed during food arrivals and deliveries at the
silo, thus preventing work stoppage during high volume

7. As reported previously, the Governorates of Babil,
Karbala, An Najaf and Al Qadisiyah are prepared for the
planned 1 June start date for the June food distribution,
although some ration shortages exist. As of 29 May, U.N.
World Food Program (WFP) national and international staff in
Al Hillah were awaiting instructions from WFP's leadership
detailing specific distribution start dates and the planned
release of ration commodities. The DART plans to visit
Samawah, Al Muthanna Governorate on 31 May and Al Kut, Wasit
Governorate early next week, to better determine their food
distribution status. The trip to Al Kut will serve as a
follow-on visit to that made by DART/South the week of May
19, when it was learned that PDS preparations were clearly
behind the other southern governorates and concerns about
aflatoxin levels in the wheat currently in the silos were
raised. The DART has no new information on PDS status in Al
Anbar Governorate, particularly in the Ar Ramadi area.

8. WFP/Al Hillah said public announcements on local
television have announced that non-registered public-
distribution system beneficiaries should go to the
registration center in Al Hillah and register for the June

9. A recent 28,000 metric ton (MT) delivery of Russian
wheat (pre-war Oil for Food commodities) arrived in
Al Hillah during the last five days. According to an Al
Hillah MOT silo manager, the wheat is old and probably not
suitable for human consumption. WFP said the MOT silo lab
personnel would test the wheat to determine its quality.

10. WFP/Al Hillah is preparing a final stock list to
determine actual shortages of ration items. In An Najaf,
WFP said it was short 750 MT of rice and 300 MT of vegetable
oil for the June ration. Pipeline deliveries of those two
items were expected soon, but actual delivery dates were not

11. A Civil Military Operations Center (CMOC)
representative said there was a growing concern among
farmers in An Najaf over the lack of information on plans to
purchase the local harvest. She said a clear plan from WFP
or the Grain Board would go far in alleviating growing
tensions. The DART is trying to attain a schedule from the
Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance.

12. WFP/An Najaf said it has been requested by WFP/Basrah
to identify additional wheat-grain storage space. The silo
manager in An Najaf believes he has found the required
additional space.


13. Various Ministry of Health (MOH) employees met at the
CMOC in An Najaf on 28 May to complain about the An Najaf
Minister of Health, who has served as minister for the past
11 years. They say he is corrupt and that he forces many
MOH workers to carry out fraudulent activities. As a
result, the Coalition authorities will likely consider
postponing the election for the An Najaf Minister of Health
scheduled for 31 May.

14. According to the Coalition civil affairs health officer
in An Najaf, the General Hospital suffers from the city's
sporadic electrical power. There is a 15-minute delay from
the time the city's power shuts down to the time the
hospital's generator starts, causing potential emergencies
in the operating room, in incubators, and for other patients
relying on electrical medical equipment.


15. The largest water treatment system (WTS) in Al Hillah
that serves 750,000 people is perilously close to failing
with three of six pumps in its primary pumping station down
and three pumps in poor condition. The DART visited the
system on 30 May with cooperative agreement partner CARE,
which has submitted a plan to make emergency repairs on the
pumps and other failing or failed parts of the system.

16. The WTS optimally produces 130,000 cubic meters of
water per day. CARE said it now runs at about 16 percent of
capacity. Sporadic electricity in Al Hillah also affects
output. The system can run a maximum of 20 hours per day,
although its backup generator can only perform for six hours
straight. The other two WTSs in Al Hillah produce 16,000
and 22,000 cubic meters per day. CARE rehabilitated both of
these smaller systems in 2001.
Other non-functional elements at the plant are the flush
mixers, the six flocculaters, and two of four backwash
pumps. Ninety of 160 filter valves are not working. The
chlorinator is weak, but is currently operable. Regarding
chlorine availability, a CARE water engineer warned that
there could be a shortage of chlorine in Iraq in two months
because the current stocks are not being replaced.
Additionally, CARE proposes to carry out the following water
and sanitation projects:

-- Clear the blocked sewage system in the Maternity and
Pediatric Hospital in Al Hillah;

-- Improve water supply in Khanaqin, Diyala;

-- Remedy a serious sewage problem in Kamilya, Baghdad;

-- Increase water capacity at two water treatment plants in
Qadissiya and one in Dorah, both in Baghdad;

-- Repair four sewage pumping stations in Hay Saddam,

-- Rehabilitate water networks in Muqdadiya and Baquba,
Diyala; Anah and Hit in Al Anbar; and Hamza and Mahaweel,

-- Increase capacity at the old and new water treatment
plants in Muqdadiya, Diyala; and

-- Make emergency repairs on a compact water unit and a
sewage pumping station damaged in the war in Central

17. CARE reported that it was in the procurement stage of
its ongoing implementation plan for Al Anbar Governorate,
carrying out water-supply repairs in Ar Rutbah and Al
Qa'im. The Ar Rutbah project requires five generators, and
Al Qa'im needs a chlorinator and boosting pumps. All heavy
equipment is being procured in Jordan.

--------------------------------------------- ----
--------------------------------------------- ----

18. The DART learned on 30 May at the Al Hillah GST meeting
that six truckloads of medicines arrived from Kimadiya-
Baghdad, the MOH drug distributor, to Al Hillah's MOH drug
warehouse on 27 May. A truckload of medical supplies was
expected on 28 May. Also reported at the meeting was that
40 tons of liquid propane gas was due to arrive in Al Hillah
everyday for five days. It was unclear when the initial
shipment would come. Al Hillah normally requires 100 tons
per day. The LPG pipeline, barring breakages, should be
running in three weeks. The Civil Affairs officer dealing
with security issues said that 260 new police officers
completed a four-day police training, and that 130 more
would be on the streets every four to five days following
completion of their trainings.


19. On 25 May, a local Al Hillah independent newspaper
office was attacked and a reporter bludgeoned to death by a
group calling itself the "The Knights of Saddam Hussein."
According to the Al Hillah CMOC, this was the only unbiased
newspaper in town. The reporter was beaten to death and a
note was pinned on him that stated anyone cooperating with
the Coalition would be killed. All the newspaper's
reporters and printing press workers have quit as a result
of this attack. Local Iraqi translators for the Coalition
have also begun to be threatened, especially while at the
interim city hall where the CMOC and GST are
based. None of the translators will identify who is
intimidating them for fear they or their families would be

20. The DART visited a mass grave northwest of Al Musayyib,
Babil on 28 May with representatives from the Office of
Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance and USAID. The
group also visited the youth center, which has been
converted into a morgue.

21. Thus far, over 600 bodies have been exhumed by the
community, including six women and one child. According
to the local site supervisor, approximately 100 to 200
bodies are being dug up everyday. When asked if the local
digging crew needed any equipment for volunteer diggers, the
site supervisor gratefully declined and said what
they really wanted was a forensics team to begin proper
exhumations of the remaining bodies buried in the mass
grave. A British forensics team previously visited the site
and will begin forensics investigations on the areas of the
site that have not been unearthed.

22. Exhumations by the local community continue to be
relatively organized. After exhumation, all bodies are
identified either by identification cards or by clothing and
personal effects. They are then taken to the youth center,
added to existing rosters and laid out for
families to identify. While the DART was at the
youth center, three bodies were identified by family
members, including a woman whose husband was killed in


23. The DART also met on 28 May with the An Najaf-based
organization Human Rights for Iraq that was created by An
Najaf lawyers after the war. The organization has 20
members (two women) and its director is a candidate in the
upcoming mayoral election in An Najaf.

24. The Deputy Director said there are six identified mass
graves in the An Najaf area with an estimated 5,000 to
10,000 victims buried in them. He suspects there are more.
His agency helped locate the gravesites, attempts to
identify bodies, and tries to provide care for the victims'
families. In addition to mass-grave activities, Human
Rights for Iraq does landmine removal and awareness. The
Deputy Director would like to put landmine-awareness
announcements on An Najaf's television station, but has not
been successful in convincing the station's staff to do

25. Other agency objectives include: the protection of
basic human rights, promotion of freedom of opinion, and the
collection and destruction of weapons in An Najaf, and
ideally working with the Coalition military. The Human
Rights for Iraq's office is located in central An Najaf in
the Center for High Studies, a division of Kufa University.


26. The DART visited the courthouse in An Najaf on 28 May.
The courthouse was looted and its records destroyed during
the time between the departure of the former regime and the
entry by Coalition forces. Records were systematically
burned, causing considerable damage to the building
interior, though not destroying it. Most of the furniture,
air conditioners, and fixtures were looted or damaged.
Electricity and plumbing need extensive replacement. The
building is in reparable condition, but will require
considerable work.

27. Judges held elections last week and are currently
hearing a limited number of cases in the adjoining Juvenile
Court that was less damaged. The DART met all of the
sitting judges as well as Coalition forces working to assist
in rebuilding the judiciary system in An Najaf. They all
agree that the current courthouse should be
repaired, in the first instance because it is economically
viable, and second as a sign to the residents of An Najaf
that the judiciary suffered in the past, but its spirit has
been resurrected and the legal system is functioning to
benefit civil society.


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