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Cablegate: Western Iraq Update

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 002418

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: WESTERN IRAQ UPDATE


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

1. According to IRC, there is no public health emergency in
either Karbala or An Najaf governorates, but local residents
are suffering from chronic, preventable health problems.
The DART met with a health representative from Babil to
discuss ways to solve emergency health problems in Al
Hillah, specifically remedying poor sanitation conditions at
the pediatric hospital, and resolving an essential drug
shortage. On the food side, according to WFP, Al Hillah has
abundant amounts of flour in the market, but most Iraqis are
unable to afford this commodity at current prices.

----------------
IRC IN AL HILLAH
----------------

2. In An Najaf, the International Rescue Committee (IRC)
has assessed 50 of the governorate's 59 compact water units
and found that most need restoration or replacement. In
Karbala, IRC said the governorate's 42 units were in better
condition. After consultation with An Najaf governorate
water officials, IRC decided to request funds from its
cooperative agreement with the DART to help improve the
faulty rural water systems.

3. "We haven't found any public health emergency," IRC said
of its findings in Karbala and An Najaf governorates.
However, IRC did find people suffering from preventable,
chronic health problems, and said it would like to address
them in its cooperative agreement plan. It will focus its
efforts in rural areas, concentrating on maternal child
health, community health workers, TBAs, health education and
hygiene, and enhanced pediatric screening. IRC would also
support communicable disease surveillance and rural
immunization campaigns, noting that the war disrupted the
cold chain in some places. IRC said there was no evidence
of cholera or typhoid, and that it was unclear whether
seasonal diarrhea rates had increased. However, IRC said
there might be some cases of cholera outside of Karbala.

4. One major problem that IRC encountered was the lack of
therapeutic milk in pediatric hospitals in An Najaf and
Karbala. Infant formula was being used as an alternative,
although, according to the IRC health specialist, this was
not a good substitute.

----------------
WFP IN AL HILLAH
----------------

5. The DART confirmed on 19 May that Coalition forces have
vacated the main food warehouse in Al Hillah. However, the
warehouse remains under the Coalition security. Wakil
(public distribution agents) trucks continue to pick up the
September/October distribution as directed by the Ministry
of Trade (MOT) and as agreed to by WFP. The distributions
are being made to supplement earlier distributions that were
deficient in some food items.

6. The DART met with WFP national staff in the designated
WFP office space at the compound. Neither the WFP nor the
MOT office spaces are in acceptable condition, and both
offices are in need of clean up, refurbishment, office
furniture, computers and supplies.

7. At the request of MOT warehouse staff, front gate
military security presently allow two trucks at a time into
the compound. Although security is willing to allow more
than two trucks, MOT warehouse staff stated that they did
not have the personnel to process more than two trucks at a
time. Approximately 30 trucks per day are receiving
commodities from the compound. Trucks normally arrive at the
compound throughout the morning and continue arriving until
about 1400 hours.

8. According to WFP staff, current distributions include
flour, rice, sugar, vegetable oil white beans, detergent,
soap, tea, salt, and infant formula. They do not have stocks
of adult milk or weaning cereal, and they are low in
vegetable oil stocks. WFP said that MOT would eventually be
responsible for providing warehouse compound security. Until
that time, Coalition forces will be required to secure the
front gate and inspect in-coming vehicles.

9. WFP stated that Al Hillah has abundant amounts of flour
in the market; however, most Iraqis are unable to afford
this commodity at current prices.

10. WFP officials said they had seen the MOT database for
Al Hillah and have discussed procedures to process any
possible beneficiaries who have not been registered or who
have lost their ration cards. MOT will re-register all
beneficiaries that have been removed from the rolls or lost
their ration cards. These individuals will receive rations
at the time of distributions. The DART will confirm the
specifics of these procedures with MOT.

--------------------------------------
PAYROLL AND SECURITY UPDATES FROM CMOC
--------------------------------------

11. The DART participated in the Babil Governorate Support
Team (GST) meeting on 19 May in Al Hillah and received a
briefing on a scheme to slowly return the task of paying
salaries to the municipalities. Bank disbursement managers
from all governorates will pay salaries via banks as they
had before the war. The Coalition military will transport
the funds to each governorate through June, and hopes to
turn over disbursement duties to the governorates in time
for the July payroll.

12. A Coalition official announced that military police
(MP) would soon begin a four-day course for police
training. The MPs will train a total of 600 police officers
for Al Hillah, and will follow up by carrying out joint
patrols. The GST also announced that it was starting a
tracking chart of all humanitarian projects in Babil.

--------------------------------------------- ---
MEETING WITH BABIL CIVIL AFFAIRS HEALTH OFFICIAL
--------------------------------------------- ---

13. The DART met with the Babil GST health representative
to discuss ways to solve emergency health problems in Al
Hillah, specifically remedying poor sanitation conditions at
the pediatric hospital, and resolving an essential drug
shortage. The GST official reported that 70 armed men
entered Al Hillah's general hospital on 18 May and demanded
that patients receive high-quality care. Looting was not a
motive, and details were sketchy. However, there was
gunfire in the hospital and two or three people were
injured. Doctors there threatened to walk out unless
security was improved. Two nights ago, there was a report
of someone throwing a grenade over the entrance gate of the
pediatric hospital. Doctors at the pediatric hospital told
the DART that many resident doctors lived at the hospital
rather than risk commuting from their homes. The Babil
Ministry of Health identified 72 residents to undergo the
upcoming "mini" police training and to serve as security
police for Al Hillah health facilities. Coalition forces
carry out periodic patrols at Al Hillah hospitals, but do
not provide permanent security for them.

JONES

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