Cablegate: Dart Team West Wave I Final Report: 14 June

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. From 26 April to 13 June, DART Team West traveled
thousands of miles in Iraq, conducting assessments, liaising
with local Coalition forces and Coalition Provisional
Authority (CPA) personnel, identifying and funding emergency
and community activities, facilitating humanitarian
assistance, and encouraging the respect of human rights.
DART Team West's area of responsibility (AOR) was Al Anbar,
Babil, Karbala, An Najaf, Al Qadisiyah, Wasit, and Al
Muthanna governorates. By mid-June, the team found
conditions in its seven western and south central
governorates to be near or at pre-war levels in the major
sectoral areas of water, sanitation, food, and health. DART
Team West has also observed reduced fuel lines, improved
security, and reopened schools. DART Team West witnessed
and supported the resurgence of local judiciaries and the
birth of human rights organizations in at least five of the
governorates. With DART Team West assistance, the Public
Distribution System (PDS) resumed in June with only minor
problems, thus allaying fears of disruptions to the food
ration system that feeds the majority of Iraq's population.
In close collaboration with DART Team West, NGO cooperative
agreement partners have begun executing emergency response
activities in each of the seven AOR governorates. In the
last several weeks, DART Team West has observed a growing
emergence of non-governmental organization (NGO) and
international organization (IO) involvement in responding to
regional humanitarian problems. Several United Nations
agencies will be based regionally in Al Hillah by the end of
June. End Summary.

Food Security

2. The Public Distribution System (PDS) continues to
supply Iraqi beneficiaries in the west and south central
governorates with full food rations during June without
major disruptions. DART Team West conducted the following
food-security site visits: Al Hillah (daily), Karbala
(thrice), An Najaf (thrice), Ad Diwaniyah (twice), As
Samawah (once), and Al Kut (once). However, DART Team West
was unable to visit the capital of Al Anbar governorate, Ar
Ramadi, due to insecurity, but it did visit several cities
elsewhere in the governorate.

3. Reports from the U.N. World Food Program (WFP) and the
Ministry of Trade (MOT) in DART Team West's AOR stated that
food supplies are arriving regularly from the major supply
pipeline corridors, and local food agents are collecting
commodities for distribution. All relevant pipeline
dispatch data is maintained and distributed by WFP.
The first post-conflict food distributions began on or about
1 June in the south-central region through the operational
and monitoring support of WFP, MOT, the Coalition forces,
and USAID. WFP is the lead agency providing oversight and
management support to the MOT and has established national
PDS teams in each governorate capital, as well as a WFP area
office in Al Hillah.
As expected, some PDS anomalies have developed, some endemic
in the south-central region, some isolated to a particular
governorate. Most of these issues have been, or continue to
be, resolved through collaborative and persistent efforts
among the WFP, DART, MOT, and Coalition Civil Affairs (CA)

Areas of Food Security Concerns

4. As the June distributions continue, DART Team West has
identified several minor areas of concern that could present
future hindrances in managing an efficient PDS:

Communications: Links between the MOT offices in Baghdad and
the MOT offices in each governorate need to be
strengthened. MOT warehouse managers, silo managers, grain
board managers and re-registration/ration center managers do
not have communication capabilities to receive instructions
from, or communicate inquiries to, a central authority. The
lack of adequate communication hampers the resolution of key
PDS issues including:

-- Instructions regarding the program for the reception,
payment, and storage of locally grown wheat;

-- Instructions to food agents, through MOT representatives,
on transportation cost reimbursements, and any changes in
distribution procedures;

-- Instructions to MOT managers on procedures to provide
overtime payments for appropriate warehouse and silo
workers; and

-- Instructions to MOT on general financial management
procedures to manage operation funds, particularly with
respect to the current $50,000 disbursement for MOT

Communication should flow in both directions and MOT should
be able to consider the various governorate problems and
react accordingly. As the PDS becomes more reliable and
less dependent on WFP in the coming months, MOT will need to
communicate to the governorate offices on a regular basis,
making timely communication an important part of efficient
food delivery.

5. Collaboration: MOT management personnel need to
understand the importance of collaboration and cooperation
in conducting the business of the PDS during this initial
phase of start up. The MOT must cooperate more fully with
WFP national staff requests to improve management methods or
resolve problems. DART Team West reports that in several
governorates, MOT management have made commitments with WFP
area office staff or WFP international staff, yet were
reluctant to make changes or implement the required actions
for improvement. As the PDS continues, MOT personnel need
to understand the importance of implementing required
changes to the PDS management. Establishing this precedent
now will become a key aspect of future changes in PDS as
Iraq becomes more economically stable and PDS phase-out
plans develop.

6. Re-registering Beneficiaries: The June distribution
will probably reveal weaknesses in the PDS. Some of these
weaknesses are known, others will be learned, but one
probable concern will be identifying those Iraqi citizens
that have fallen out of the PDS. Although the MOT re-
registration/ration centers are vigorously re-registering
beneficiaries in all the governorates, there will be
marginalized groups, such as prisoners of war, released
prisoners, refugee returnees, internally displaced persons
(IDPs), and others that missed the June ration for various
reasons. WFP will be monitoring distributions at the
beneficiary level, but will need strong cooperation from MOT
in order to address the PDS needs of those groups and
individuals that missed the June distribution and to assure
they are included in the PDS for future distributions.

7. Working Parameters: It is important to reiterate DART
Team West's position within the current Coalition
Provisional Authority (CPA) structure in Al Hillah. DART
Team West has performed a variety of reporting and liaison
activities among the different agencies working within the
PDS in this AOR and will continue to do so. (Note: With
DART Team West's departure from Al Hillah on June 13, a new
DART Team South has been positioned in Al Hillah to continue
humanitarian monitoring and programming activities for Al
Anbar, Babil, Karbala, An Najaf, Al Qadisiyah, Wasit, Al
Muthanna, Maysan, Dhi Qar and Al Basrah governorates. End
Note.) The working relationships developed with CPA and
military Civil Affairs units within DART Team West's AOR
have been successful, in part, because of the understanding
that DART Team West operates and reports within the
parameters established earlier by USAID and CPA. DART Team
West's independence in determining priority activities and
maintaining its reporting responsibilities is key to its
value to ongoing operations in its AOR and imperative for
its continued success in the region. South central CPA has
been very supportive of these conditions and the new DART
Team South looks forward to continuing a strong and
productive relationship with CPA in Al Hillah under these
same conditions.

Human Rights and Protection

8. Mass Graves: Dozens of mass graves have been uncovered
since the fall of the former regime. Most of these mass
graves are a direct result of the killings that occurred in
1991 when Shiite Muslims were massacred by Iraqi military
forces after their uprising and buried within are the
remains of men, women, and children. Residents had been
using their hands, shovels, and tractors to excavate the
bodies. Community members, who have been working at these
sites and have been looking for the remains of family
members, claim that most bodies had either been shot or
buried alive; some had been tortured, and others were bound
and blindfolded prior to being killed.

9. The community has been able to identify remains in
three ways: by photo identification (ID) card, by another
ID card with a personal number (similar to a social security
card), and by personal items such as clothing, jewelry,
etc. Bodies not yet identified are either put in piles or
in plastic bags (two to three bodies per bag). In some
areas, the non-identified remains have been re-buried.
Community members are eager to find the remains of their
loved ones in order to provide a proper Shiite religious
burial. However, in many instances, they have agreed to
leave these gravesites untouched until proper forensics
teams can examine the areas and recover the remains
appropriately. For the most part, the community understands
that uncoordinated exploitation of gravesites diminishes the
probability of identifying the missing and may fail to
preserve evidence that could bring perpetrators to justice.
"INFORCE", a British forensics team, is beginning its
assessments of the various gravesites in the region.
Exhumations thus far by the local community continue to be
relatively organized.

10. Human Rights Societies: There is an obvious absence of
civil-society groups in the south-central region. Ba'ath
Party members had controlled most, if not all, of these
groups (including the National Federation of Iraqi Women and
local youth groups) during the former regime. After the end
of the recent conflict, human rights societies were stood up
(mainly through the local lawyers' associations) in most of
the governorates, according to many of the Coalition Civil
Affairs units with whom DART Team West spoke. Iraqis were
eager to monitor, prevent, and respond to past and current
human rights abuses. Many explained they had been waiting
for years to reclaim their rights and freedom.

11. DART Team West visited local human rights societies in
Al Hillah, Karbala, and An Najaf. Much of the work these
organizations are doing is quite impressive. The
initiatives include: educating their communities on rights-
based approaches to conflict and violence; working on de-
mining and unexploded ordnance (UXO) prevention; locating
mass graves and assisting the community in identification of
loved ones; locating prisoners of war and missing soldiers;
and recording war damages for future compensation. These
societies are also using local television, radio, and
newsletters to educate local and international communities
about their efforts. However, despite all of the work that
these societies are accomplishing, there is a potential
problem that can hamper their effectiveness. Communication
is quite difficult with many of these societies not having
working phones, and if they do, they can often only be
operational within their local area. This limits the amount
of communication the societies can have with one another,
leading to potential tension among one another, as there is
a lack of standardization of activities and no clear

12. Retribution/Revenge: There is evidence of small
pockets of hostility with regard to revenge and retribution
in communities in the south central region. However, with
the help of religious leaders, human rights societies, and
Coalition forces, these incidents have not escalated to a
dangerous level. For example, aides to a highly respected
Shiite religious leader distributed a flier that admonished
against any revenge violence and emphasized the need to work
through proper judicial systems. As long as the insecurity
issue continues, however, the potential for escalating
violence among Iraqis will increase.

Human Rights and Protection: Next Steps

13. DART Baghdad, DART Team South and DART Team North will
need to continue to monitor human rights and protection
issues in all of Iraq's 18 governorates. DART Team West is
providing a list of next steps for DART Baghdad, DART Team
South and DART Team North staff to use:

-- Continue to monitor and report any human rights incidents
to proper Coalition forces, CPA, appropriate United Nations
agencies, and to Iraqi human rights societies and relevant

-- Continue liaising with the local community on the mass
graves issue and ensure that organizations involved in
protection and exhumation keep the communities informed of
their activities and involved in any decision-making; and

-- Provide human rights societies with the necessary
capacity to enhance their work, including formal training on
human rights monitoring and on the Geneva Conventions, as
well as on organizational management. Many also need basic
"office in a box" assistance in order to continue their good
work and to begin to forge links with other local and
international human rights groups.

Assistance to Vulnerable Groups

14. During the former regime, there was a small amount of
assistance provided to vulnerable groups such as the poor,
IDPs, widows, orphans, elderly, and the handicapped. The
Ministry of Labor and Social Services had provided a small
stipend to many of these individuals depending on family
size. In Al Hillah, for example, the Ministry had provided
its last quarterly payment of 15,000 to 22,500 Iraqi dinars
(1,500 Iraqi dinars = USD 1) in December 2002. These groups
are already in a very vulnerable position. Any long-term
delay in assistance will exacerbate their vulnerabilities
and will create undue hardships that can be avoided.

15. Despite what some may claim, many women and children
are treated as second-class citizens in Iraq. It will take
time for women to reach an appropriate standard of living
and gain full access to basic services. Their own
vulnerabilities are apparent, and it is critical to focus on
their exigencies, especially education, health, and
political participation. Child labor is rife in Iraq, and
participation in post-primary education is not a certainty,
particularly for girls. Poor economic conditions and
cultural norms weigh heavily on childhood opportunities.

Protection of Vulnerable Groups: Next Steps

16. DART Baghdad, DART Team South and DART Team North will
need to continue to monitor the protection of Iraq's
vulnerable groups. The DART teams should:

-- Ensure assistance to vulnerable groups is included in
CPA strategies and plans (short and long-term);

-- Gather more information on the numbers and composition of
vulnerable groups in each governorate; and

-- Guarantee these vulnerable groups are being assisted in
the short and long-term through NGOs, IOs, and/or CPA
initiatives and programs.

Refugee Returns

17. In preparation for possible repatriations to the south
central region of Iraq, DART Team West discussed refugee
repatriation issues with local leadership, NGOs, and WFP in
its AOR govern orates. Overall, most basic service sectors
are up and running in the larger cities including water,
electricity, security, food, and health. When asked if
refugees would be easily accepted back into the community,
most residents seemed supportive of returning Iraqis who
have either been expatriates, IDPs, or refugees, as long as
they bring skills that can help improve the governorates
where they relocate. If returnees have an identification
card that shows they are returning Iraqi citizens, they are
able to register with the governorate's ration center for a
food ration card. While many of the urban sectors in the
south-central region are functioning at pre-war levels,
rural areas continue to lack proper electricity and water
and, in many cases, security, health, and sanitation are
below standard requirements.

Refugee Returns: Next Steps

18. For refugee returns to be successful in Iraq:

-- It will be critical to understand the makeup of these
returning refugees, including the number of extremely
vulnerable individuals, the breakdown of urban and rural
inhabitants, the composition of families, the numbers of
males and females, and the percentage with family or
relative support networks;

-- Refugee repatriation should begin with a small number of
returnees and with those who have local host family support;

-- Security will be an issue and assisting organizations,
such as UNHCR, should liaise and inform Coalition forces,
NGOs, and local community leaders to ensure that returnees
will have adequate assistance during the first few days of

Transition Activities

19. With the arrival in Al Hillah this past week of the
Office of Transition Initiatives' (OTI) implementing
partner, the International Organization for Migration, many
projects already identified by Team West's OTI Officer are
expected to commence. Other possible OTI projects will also
be considered for funding. The Al Hillah projects include
office, communications, and computer equipment for the Human
Rights Association of Al Hillah and the Babil governorate
courthouse. These two refurbishment projects are underway
after considerable OTI effort. A funding level of $50,000
was provided through the south-central CPA discretionary
funding mechanism. These projects are a good example of
U.S. Government interagency cooperation to rebuild essential
governance and civic community infrastructure. Other OTI
projects expected to be initiated in Al Hillah include:
support to the women's association; an orphanage project;
Internet connectivity at the Babylon University graduate
school; a city street lighting project; environment and city
clean up projects; repair of the telephone exchange; school
and medical facility rehabilitation; and support to an
independent newspaper, the local television station, and a
radio station.

20. DART Team West developed an excellent working
relationship with south central CPA, and was considered a
full team participant. This is also true of the various
Coalition Civil Affairs personnel, and DART Team West's
automatic inclusion in the Civil Affairs units as
colleagues, working toward the same common goal. Not enough
can be said for the support and cooperation received and
reciprocated in Al Hillah to make all U.S. Government work
much easier.

Major Sector Updates

21. Health: With some exceptions, most hospitals assessed
in DART Team West's AOR are functioning at pre-conflict
levels, albeit not at optimal standards. Some governorate's
have received drugs and supplies from the Ministry of Health
in Baghdad, while others continue to wait. For the first
time since 1997, drugs are being issued for free. The
Ministry of Health's (MOH) dreaded "self-financing" system
has largely ended. As a result, some health facilities have
seen a doubling in the number of patients being treated.

22. Through its cooperative agreement partners, DART Team
West has delivered emergency health kits to six of the seven
governorates in its AOR, and the NGO partners have begun
health activities in Wasit, Karbala, An Najaf, and Al Anbar
governorates. Many governorates are holding first-ever
elections for MOH positions from technical department heads
to governorate-level general directors. Babil governorate
health professionals recently voted out of office its acting
general director, a former Ba'athist party member.

23. Concern remains for health facilities in rural areas.
DART Team West visited two rural, primary health centers
(PHC) and found a dearth of drugs, spartan conditions, and
abnormally high malnutrition rates among residents. The
Coalition Civil Affairs officer for health issues in An
Najaf, recently traveled to several rural PHCs and "sub-
clinics" and said conditions ranged from inadequate to
abysmal. "The farther we go out, the worse they get," he
said. DART Team South and its implementing partners must
consider further assessments and interventions in these
areas, particularly among pockets of displaced populations.

24. Water and Sanitation: Water supply in the south
central region appears to be mostly at pre-conflict levels,
although years of neglect has significantly reduced the
capacity and quality of water treatment systems and plants,
both in the urban and rural areas. Conflict-affected
electrical systems limited the supply of water in many urban
areas, though water supply problems abated with recent
improvements in electrical output. Chronic procurement and
funding challenges prior to the recent conflict proved to be
a major contributor to significant numbers of childhood
diarrhea cases. Each hospital representative who DART Team
West interviewed reported that diarrhea was the number one
childhood health problem. Some health facility
professionals stated that nearly all admitted children
suffered from some form of diarrhea, with roots abetted by
poor water and sanitation and exacerbated by malnutrition.

25. DART Team West's implementing partners are conducting
emergency water interventions in Wasit, Babil, An Najaf, and
Al Anbar, and will soon begin work in Al Qadisiyah and
Karbala governorates. While NGOs have the capacity to carry
out relatively large-scale urban water projects, they are
perfectly suited to contribute in outlying urban and rural
areas. With DART funds, CARE is rehabilitating the water
treatment system in Al Hillah that provides water to 750,000
people. When completed, the water quality will be improved
and the plant's overall capacity will increase from 16 to 75
percent. In rural areas, DART has a number of partners
active in emergency responses. The International Rescue
Committee is rehabilitating the majority of all compact
water units in An Najaf, and Mercy Corps International is
improving water systems in villages surrounding Al Kut.
Most major city sewage systems are functional, but there are
isolated problems that need to be addressed, such as system
blockages at hospitals. Overflowing septic systems, which
provide sewage needs for up to 70 percent of some city
populations, have caused health hazards in isolated
neighborhoods and could be addressed by NGOs in the short-

26. Electricity: Electricity supplies have increased five-
fold in some neighborhoods of Al Hillah compared to before
the conflict, yet improved or optimal capacity has not been
reached in all areas in the south central region, and may
actually have diminished in some governorates. Karbala and
Al Hillah will likely see reduced electrical supply by the
end of June given changes to and re-prioritization of the
regional and national electrical grid. In some areas,
residents are receiving power in lieu of local factories.
Karbala's major industries are shutdown, yet residents are
getting more power than prior to the conflict. Al Kut's
largest employer, the textile factory, is not operational
for lack of power.

27. Fuel: During its first week in Al Hillah, DART Team
West observed vehicle lines at gasoline stations of up to
one kilometer in length. Tempers flared and security became
a major concern. Coalition forces were dispatched at
gasoline stations to prevent further violence. During the
last two weeks in Al Hillah, the gasoline crisis appears to
have receded. The Coalition has paid for tankers to provide
fuel throughout the south-central region. However, less
than half of the regional gasoline requirements are being
met. Diesel fuel, on the other hand, is relatively
plentiful. Since the conflict began on March 20, the
primary fuel for cooking, liquid propane gas (LPG), has been
extremely scarce throughout DART Team West's AOR. The
largest propane gas supplier in the region sold 10,000
cylinders per day before the conflict. By mid-May, the
supplier was selling none. The fuel pipelines from northern
and southern Iraq were not functioning, and no LPG tankers
were providing relief. People were using kerosene as an
alternative, if it was available. In some places, the cost
of LPG was beyond the means of many. Others resorted to
cooking with wood, causing the partial denuding of urban
tree coverage in some cities and towns. During the last two
weeks, the Coalition has funded the provision of LPG
deliveries, offering some immediate relief, but not
alleviating the serious shortage in the south-central

28. Education: Most schools have been open for more than
one month, and nearly all students and teachers have
returned. However, for security reasons, many schools are
holding abbreviated sessions and conclude early in the
afternoon. Some teachers have left the classroom or are
working additional jobs to survive because of the small
amount paid in salaries. In most governorates, April
salaries have been paid to all government workers, and a USD
20 emergency payment has been made. A significant number of
May salaries have been paid by the Coalition, or are
expected to be paid by mid-June.


29. The number one problem reported to DART Team West at
every assessment has been insecurity. Prior to the
conflict, crime was minimal even in Baghdad. Following the
conflict, there was looting in every governorate in the DART
Team West's AOR. Hospitals, warehouses, private businesses,
vehicles, orphanages, electric transmission lines, and
nearly everything of any value were susceptible to theft.
At the time of DART Team West's entry into Iraq on 26 April,
schools were closed, emergency services were limited at
health facilities, and businesses opened with restricted
hours and wary eyes. Since the end of April, the team
observed a significant increase in trained police officers
on patrol and guarding essential facilities. As of 7 June
in Al Hillah, Coalition forces had trained and armed 584
local Iraqi police officers in four-day police academies.
Although more police training is ongoing, the Iraq people's
fear of insecurity appears to be waning, though they are
still not completely comfortable with current security

30. UXOs and mines continue to be problematic, although
some awareness programs are underway. UXO and mine-
awareness posters are visible in public areas, NGOs,
Coalition forces, the United Nations, and other agencies are
beginning education activities. The El Hideria health
clinic, 40 kilometers north of An Najaf, has received more
than 30 patients injured by UXOs since the end of the
conflict, including three who sustained injuries last week.
By early May, Ar Rutbah in Al Anbar governorate also had 30
victims of injuries sustained by UXO accidents.

The Need for Coordination

31. All organizations and groups conducting humanitarian
and development activities in the western and south central
regions of Iraq need to begin exchanging information and
providing mutual support. Of vital importance is also to
include Iraqi departmental heads in all planning dialogues.
Iraqi participation in planning will help empower local
officials, increase their levels of responsibility, and most
likely provide the best sources of information. DART Team
West has observed very limited involvement of local
officials in the humanitarian decision-making process. DART
Baghdad, DART Team South, and DART Team North must encourage
more local involvement whenever and wherever possible.

32. In the early stages of DART Team West's assessments
within Iraq, nearly all humanitarian responses were being
conducted by Coalition Civil Affairs units. They are still
doing the majority of the humanitarian work on the ground,
with relatively little funding. A growing number of NGOs
and international relief organizations have opened offices
or begun field assessments in south-central Iraq, including
various U.N. agencies. The World Food Program (WFP) has
been the only exception. WFP's Iraqi staff has been
operating effectively for weeks. USAID and CPA contractors
based in Al Hillah, including Bechtel and the Research
Triangle Institute, are visiting and assessing all south-
central governorates and are planning response initiatives.
To avoid redundancy, and for planning purposes, there must
be more interaction and information sharing among all
parties involved in the restoration of Iraq. The DARTs can
help facilitate this coordination.

Waiting and Hoping

33. When DART Team West's translator was asked to provide
his viewpoint on the condition of Iraq, he responded by
stating that conditions were improving in Iraq, yet people
were waiting for more livelihood improvements and were
apprehensive about the future. He is content with the
changes the Coalition forces have brought to the residents
of Al Hillah and the surrounding governorates. "My family,
my friends, we feel it is better," he said. "You liberated
us from Saddam Hussein. This is a better thing." He
continued, "If there is a central, democratic government, I
hope it'll be okay. (With) our oil, our wealth, our land, I
think it'll be fine." But, there is a long way to go.
"Believe me there are some problems."

34. The DART Team West translator said people accept the
Coalition forces, for now. "The Shia don't hate the
Coalition forces," he said, "because you're the people who
rid us of Saddam Hussein. But we're waiting for you to do
your promises. We're waiting for you to help us rebuild
Iraq, and have elections, and then leave. Some people are
afraid they will never leave us. People here are very poor
people. If you don't hurt them, they will never hurt you.
If you help them, they will help you." Before accepting the
translator position with the DART, he asked his local cleric
if it was acceptable to work with the Coalition forces. "If
they're working for the Iraqi people," the cleric said, "you
can work for them." However, the DART translator added,
there was some suspicion among Iraqis of Coalition motives.
"We don't know what (is) hidden in your mind," he said.


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