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Cablegate: The Public Food Distribution System Begins in The

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 002640

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
DOHA FOR MSHIRLEY
ANKARA FOR AMB WRPEARSON, ECON AJSIROTIC
AMMAN FOR USAID

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID PREF IZ WFP
SUBJECT: THE PUBLIC FOOD DISTRIBUTION SYSTEM BEGINS IN THE
NORTH


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

1. June distributions begin in the three northern
governorates of Dahuk, Arbil, and As Sulaymaniyah, while at
the same time, WFP continues to provide catch-up rations of
wheat flour. Differences that exist between the
distributions in the three northern governorates and the
central/south are being addressed. Mosul is set to begin
the June distributions on or about 3 June, with Kirkuk
starting a couple days later. As the security situation in
Tikrit was only recently deemed permissive by the Coalition,
the Governorate of Salah ad Din is behind in preparation,
but food deliveries to Tikrit began last week. UNSECOORD
will visit Tikrit on 4 June to evaluate the security
situation for the U.N. Significant truck delays at the
Turkish border have recently been addressed by changing the
Peshmerga "parking fee" from Swiss dinars to U.S. dollars.
Government fuel pumps in the north are now charging
customers in old Iraqi dinars, i.e., Saddam dinars, under an
agreement with the Coalition, marking the first time this
currency has been used in the north since 1991. End
Summary.

-----------------------------
THREE NORTHERN GOVERNORATES
-----------------------------

2. As previously reported, since last fall the three
northern Governorates of Dahuk, Arbil, and As Sulaymaniyah
received single rations of wheat flour whereas central/south
received double rations each month. Further compounding the
differences between the north and central/south, even the
single rations of wheat flour in February and March were not
complete in the north, meaning that people either received
less than the full one month's ration of wheat flour or that
some areas received no wheat flour at all. In contrast, all
central/south governorates have received wheat flour rations
through July, and most in central/south have now received
the August ration of wheat flour. (Note: Some governorates
in central/south have even received wheat flour and other
commodities through October. End Note.)

3. Since April, the U.N. World Food Program (WFP) has been
working to address the northern shortfalls in wheat flour,
and it is currently being distributed in the three northern
governorates for May. The distributions are approximately
30 percent complete. Beans and vegetable oil are being
distributed for June/July; rice, tea, and sugar have been
distributed through July. There is currently no weaning
cereal, infant formula, soap, or detergent available.
Although this distribution is being billed as the official
June countrywide ration, northern beneficiaries know they
are still behind central/south, as evidenced by their ration
cards. The DART reports, however, that distributions are
proceeding smoothly.

4. To address the discontentment among the population of
the three northern governorates caused by their knowledge
that they have received less than the rest of the country,
WFP is beginning to put the word out that because
central/south experienced a higher amount of turmoil and
looting during and after the war, it is fair that they have
recently received additional commodities.

5. The DART reports that the population in the three
northern governorates is extremely happy to be receiving
better quality commodities, as there had been a number of
complaints over the years about the quality of rice and
sometimes also flour. They are especially pleased to
receive vegetable oil rather than ghee for the first time.

------------------
NINAWA GOVERNORATE
------------------

6. The public distribution system (PDS) should begin in
Ninawa Governorate on or about 3 June with wheat flour and
sugar. Distributions of other commodities will follow as
they are received. WFP is especially pleased with strong
Coalition and Ministry of Trade (MOT) support, and believes
the distributions should go fairly smoothly, pending
availability of all commodities. The fraudulent 40-
commodity public distribution system (PDS) list, which
apparently originated in Mosul, does not appear to be
affecting distribution preparations at this time. Mosul
residents have reported that they have seen television
notices regarding the USD 105 per metric ton (MT) as the
sale price for the wheat harvest, but no details were given
about procedures.

7. In the contested areas, such as Ninawa-Dahuk (e.g.,
Shekhan) and Ninawa-Arbil (e.g., Makhmur), the food agents
will continue to pick up their rations from the same points
as before, which in general is Mosul. WFP believes that
approximately 400,000 people would be affected in making
changes to the current boundaries. Such a major shift would
involve a massive operation to alter ration cards, something
WFP wants to avoid at this time. Once the border issues are
officially resolved, ration cards can be changed
accordingly, if in fact, the PDS is still providing a ration
to every Iraqi at that point.

---------------------
AT'TAMIM GOVERNORATE
---------------------

8. In At'Tamim Governorate, the PDS was scheduled to begin
on 5 June in Kirkuk with wheat flour and sugar. As in
Mosul, distributions of other commodities will follow as
they are received. Unfortunately, Kirkuk is less prepared
than Mosul to re-start the PDS. The Kurdish authorities
installed new MOT managers who had with little experience
and no institutional knowledge of the PDS. Even so, WFP was
trying to work with the former managers, and reported that
Coalition forces had not taken a strong stand to support the
positions of the old managers leading up to the June
distribution. The DART reports that on 2 June, Coalition
forces reinstated the previous head of the MOT, and assigned
the Kurdish man from As Sulaymaniyah to be the deputy. WFP
and the DART feel this appointment will be helpful in
getting the PDS on track in At'Tamim.

------------------------
SALAH AD DIN GOVERNORATE
------------------------

9. WFP is storing some commodities for Tikrit in Dahuk, and
last week, WFP began delivering food directly to Tikrit,
using commercial trucks. On 30 May, the DART traveled to
Tikrit, where Civil Military Operations Center (CMOC)
personnel noted that they had deemed the city's security
status permissive. However, with Tikrit being the last
governorate capital to become permissive, it is behind the
rest of the country in PDS preparations. (Note: Not all
parts of Salah ad Din Governorate have been declared
permissive.) For the U.N., however, Tikrit remains off
limits. The DART urged the U.N. Security Coordinator
(UNSECOORD) to conduct a security assessment of Tikrit,
which took place on 4 June. WFP international logistics and
program staff hope to access the area on or about 7 June.

10. On 3 June, the DART returned to Tikrit and met with
Coalition forces (including the U.S. military governor and
Civil Affairs [CA] personnel), WFP national staff, and the
MOT head of the food department. WFP currently has
approximately 10,000 MT of stocks in Tikrit: 5,500 MT wheat
flour (almost enough for June), 4,035 MT rice, and
approximately 600 MT of lentils. In addition, the MOT has
enough tea and soap for the June distribution and very large
stocks of sugar. The MOT also expects to receive 950 MT
ghee or vegetable oil, 450 MT detergent, and 40 MT infant
formula in the coming days from southern Iraq. Beans will
still be somewhat short, and beneficiaries in Tikrit prefer
beans to lentils. The DART will be discussing beans options
with WFP for the July distribution. This will be dependent,
however, on availability of other types of beans.

11. The WFP Tikrit national staff team leader (a Ph.D.-
holding former diplomat) and his team were found to be doing
an excellent job managing both the commodities and relations
with Coalition forces and the MOT -- despite lacking any
supervision, communication, or transport. The public
distribution is scheduled to begin in Salah Ad Din
Governorate on or about 5 June, and is expected to proceed
rather smoothly, according to Coalition forces and WFP
sources, given the continuity and competence of most MOT
staff in the Governorate. The arrival of WFP international
staff will build on the strong MOT and WFP team already in
place.

12. Coalition forces are guarding MOT stocks with soldiers
and three armored personnel carriers. However, WFP's
warehouses at the grain silo are not yet protected. DART
and CA personnel impressed upon the governor the importance
of having Coalition forces guard the WFP stores, and he
agreed to follow up.

13. Among other issues raised, the governor noted the
importance of salary payments for ex-soldiers, many of whom
had abandoned their posts as directed by Coalition forces.
The governor felt this to be particularly important in an
area such as Tikrit, where a large percentage of the
population served in the former military. Regarding this
and a number of other issues that were raised, Coalition
forces in Tikrit believe that opening an Office of the
Coalition Provisional Authority (OCPA) in Tikrit would be
especially beneficial to them and to the area. The DART is
following up with OCPA/North to arrange a Tikrit visit in
order to meet with military and other personnel there.

14. The Tikrit MOT Grain Board is functional, and is aware
of the USD 105 per MT wheat purchase price, but still awaits
detailed guidance from Baghdad regarding the procedures.

------------------------------
PROBLEMS AT THE TURKISH BORDER
------------------------------

15. Recently, Turkish drivers protested the rising fees
they had been forced to pay the Peshmergas as they enter
Iraq. The protests caused huge delays at the border. Due
to the devaluation of the U.S. dollar against the Swiss
dinars, the "parking fee" collected in Swiss dinars went
from USD 20 to USD 80 in recent days. During the height of
the delays last weekend, there were 2,800 trucks blocked at
the border crossing. On 1 June, the issue was resolved
between WFP and the local authorities with an agreement to
pay USD 20 for the parking fee at the border. This saves
the truckers from having to change U.S. dollars to Swiss
dinars to pay the fee.

16. Government fuel pumps in the north are now charging
customers in old Iraqi dinars, i.e., Saddam dinars, under an
agreement with the Coalition. This marks the first time
this currency has been used in the north since 1991. (Note:
While government stations are using the Saddam notes, most
fuel is still sold or resold on city sidewalks in Swiss
dinars. End Note.)

JONES

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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