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Cablegate: Dart Update On Al Muthanna

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 002522

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 UPDATE ON AL MUTHANNA
SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED - PROTECT ACCORDINGLY

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

1. (U) Health, security, water, and electricity conditions
have improved in Samawah, Al Muthanna Governorate since the
DART's last visit on 15 May, according to the deputy
governor. He said unemployment was now the largest
problem. The DART also visited with WFP, ACTED, and with
CMOC staff. WFP said it expected a relatively smooth June
food distribution in the Al Muthanna and Al Qadisiyah
Governorates. End Summary.

--------------------------------------------- ---------
AL AL MUTHANNA, AL QADISIYAH FOOD DISTRIBUTION UPDATES
--------------------------------------------- ---------

2. (U) The DART met with U.N. World Food Program (WFP)
staff in Samawah on 31 May to discuss the planned 1 June
start date for the public distribution system (PDS).
According to WFP, the Al Muthanna Governorate was prepared
to begin distributions and there were no major issues
affecting the PDS.

3. (U) Flour distributions will begin on 1 June, followed
by food commodity distributions on 2 June. The civil-
military operations center (CMOC) will deploy additional
security patrols and will station teams at the distribution
points to assist the Ministry of Trade (MOT) security
personnel. WFP mentioned that contracted workers were
asking for an increase in salaries, posing a problem for off-
loading trucks during distributions.

4. (U) All MOT offices were functioning, and the DART
witnessed the Ration Card Center (RCC) registering new
beneficiaries. As of 29 May, the grain silo had received
3,194 metric tons (MT) of wheat grain with additional
deliveries due on 31 May. It had an additional storage
capacity of approximately 7,000 MT. WFP said an unknown
quantity of lentils was expected on 31 May, but WFP was
unsure if the deliveries planned for June would allow for a
complete ration for all beneficiaries. Milling is ongoing
without any reported problems.

5. (U) WFP reported difficulty in working with the MOT
warehouse manager, particularly in identifying warehouse
space for PDS commodities. WFP staff stated that despite
what it viewed as counterproductive management decisions by
the warehouse manager, they would continue to work around
the problem to avoid disruptions in June's distribution.

6. (U) Management issues were also a concern in Ad
Diwaniyah Governorate. MOT management changes at the
warehouse and the Grain Board were delaying the disbursement
of emergency-payment funds to MOT employees and slowing the
release of operating funds for necessary start-up costs and
repairs.

7. (U) Staff at MOT facilities reported they were receiving
some operating supplies from Baghdad, but needed funds for
fuel, furniture, payment of contracts, chemicals, and grain
testing and office supplies.

8. (U) According to the Ration Center Manager, the Ration
Center has begun to serve beneficiaries and will register
new arrivals from outside Iraq, as well as new arrivals from
other governorates and those with lost or stolen
identification or ration cards. As of 29 May, the Ration
Center has issued new ration cards for 15 families.

--------------------------
OTHER Al QADISIYAH UPDATES
--------------------------

-- CMOC has assisted in obtaining two air conditioners for
the WFP and MOT offices at the warehouse and work has begun
on installation.

-- According to CMOC/Ad Diwaniyah, the flour distribution
in Al Qadisiyah has begun and planned food distributions
will begin the week of 1 Jun.

-- Coalition forces have begun initial assessments of the
repair requirements at MOT facilities. CMOC has informed the
DART that repair projects will be developed for the Grain
Board and the warehouse.

-- WFP and MOT offices in Al Qadisiyah, Karbala, An Najaf,
Al Muthanna, and Babil have not yet received instructions
for the local purchase of grains.

-- The DART has seen fake PDS item lists in Al Hillah and
Samawah that are reportedly being sold on the local market
for 250 dinars. The DART assumes this may cause some
confusion during June's distribution.

---------------------------
IMPROVING PROTECTION ISSUES
---------------------------

9. (U) The DART met on 31 May with the Deputy Governor of
Al Muthanna and with the CMOC director. Both indicated
protection issues in town have improved since the DART's
first visit to Samawah two weeks ago. Coalition forces have
begun training programs for a new Iraqi police force,
thereby increasing the number of police on the streets and
improving their basic policing procedures. Community
members have also gotten together and set up a neighborhood
watch for many of the districts in town. The deputy mayor
is very happy with the support the community has received
from Coalition forces on this matter. The justice system is
showing improved operations as well. Police are properly
arresting offenders, writing arrest reports, keeping track
of evidence, and beginning to send cases to trial. Judges
have been vetted and the courthouse is being repaired with
Department of Defense ODHACA funds.

10. (U) In terms of reprisals, CMOC reported that there
have not been any obvious cases of reprisals in Samawa.
People tend to either go to Coalition forces or the
authorities before taking matters into their own hands.
Communities are well organized and come bearing petitions
that request Coalition forces to investigate someone accused
of corrupt dealings during the former regime. However,
there continues to be petty theft and incidents of looting,
as well as tribal tensions.

11. (U) According to the CMOC, there are three small mass
graves near Samawa and one larger one between Samawa and Al
Saman. A Kuwaiti forensics team has traveled to that site
to identify possible Kuwaiti citizens who were thought to be
buried there. The criminal investigation division is also
becoming involved in the mass graves issues around town.

-------------------------
POTENTIAL REFUGEE RETURNS
-------------------------

12. (SBU) There have been recent reports that
approximately 5,200 refugees in Rafha refugee camp in Saudi
Arabia will be voluntarily repatriated to Basra and Samawa
in the next couple of weeks. In preparation for possible
repatriations to Samawa, the DART discussed refugee
repatriation issues with the deputy governor, the Agency for
Technical Cooperation and Development (ACTED), WFP, and the
CMOC. According to the deputy governor, there are between
650,000 to 700,000 people in Al Muthanna Governorate. When
asked if refugees would be easily accepted back into the
community, he seemed supportive of returning Iraqis who had
either been expatriates (he was an expatriate himself) or
refugees, as long as they brought skills with them that
could help Samawa build up and continue to develop. (Note:
this answer is generally shared by Iraqis when asked this
same question. End Note.)

13. (U) On food rations, it seems as long as refugees have
an identity card that identifies them as returned Iraqi
citizens, they are able to register with the governorate's
ration center for a ration card. Overall, it appears most
of the sectors are up and running in the city, including
water, electricity, security, food, and health. While many
of the urban sectors in Samawa are functioning at pre-war
levels, many rural areas continue to lack proper
electricity, security, health, and water and sanitation.
Therefore, it is critical to know the makeup of these
returning refugees, such as the number of extremely
vulnerable individuals, and the percentage of rural versus
urban dwellers.

-----------------------------------
IMPROVING CONDITIONS IN AL MUTHANNA
-----------------------------------

14. (U) Since the DART last visited Samawah on 15 May,
conditions have markedly improved, according to Al
Muthanna's Deputy Governor. "You can ask people if you want
to confirm," he said. In rural areas, 18 additional tankers
have begun to distribute water, and in Samawah, power supply
has increased to 50 megawatts (MW) from 10 MW following a
"deal" the governor made with Samawah's source of power, An
Nasariyah. The Deputy Governor said the governorate
requires 75 megawatts.

15. (U) In health, the pediatric hospital recently
installed or improved its air conditioning system, and the
Coalition troops began providing better security at health
facilities, according to the Deputy Governor. One week ago,
GOAL delivered a shipment of DART-funded drugs to the
Ministry of Health. On food, the Deputy Governor said
residents had two to three months of food rations stored in
their homes.

16. (U) Problems remaining included "individual" security
problems regarding thieves, and joblessness, especially
among teenagers, according to the Deputy Governor. He said
youths were increasingly turning to drugs, particularly
pharmaceuticals, such as Valium. He also said that job
prospects would improve once a central government in Baghdad
was established.

17. (U) The city council, selected by tribes and political
parties, has ballooned to 60 members, none of whom are
women. The Deputy Governor said the Coalition would like
that number reduced to 25 with members having sectoral
expertise. He said residents would welcome women on the
council and said that many women served in the municipal
government. He suggested elections would take place upon
the establishment of a central government.

18. (U) The DART visited with ACTED on 31 May, a French
agency that has been active in Al Muthanna since late
April. ACTED hopes to work on rural water and sanitation,
and health activities in Al Muthanna, a governorate with one
of the highest rural populations. It is also interested in
the agriculture sector. ACTED calls water the greatest
problem in rural Al Muthanna with many people drinking water
straight from canals. Most compact water units are not
functioning, according to ACTED. It proposes repairing or
replacing water units, and improving the water-tanker
distribution system. ACTED has office space at the water
treatment center, and will work on monitoring the water
system with the water department. ACTED called Al
Muthanna's wheat yield among the lowest in the world.
"Wheat is a disaster," it said. ACTED blamed the problem on
the intrusion of salty water, bad seeds, and possibly a lack
of proper fertilizers.

19. (U) The DART met with CMOC director and other CMOC
representatives on 31 May in Samawah who confirmed the
deputy governor's belief that the health sector had
improved. According to the CMOC director, there are
currently no major health concerns, however oxygen is scarce
and expensive.

20. (U) The director also said that general fuel supplies
were low and that prospects of replenishment were unclear.
He said twenty tons of liquid petroleum gas (LPG) came into
Samawah each of the last two days, providing 1,100 families
with one bottle each. Samawah has an estimated 150,000
people. The director also said that 24 tankers of benzene
arrived last week, temporarily meeting benzene needs.
Diesel fuel remained in short supply. According to the
director, the electrical supply should improve by late June
when a third generator in An Nasariyah, Samawah's power
source, goes into operation.

JONES

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