Cablegate: Dart Food Update in the North

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. Nearly 400 WFP-contracted trucks from Syria with
approximately 16,000 metric tons (MT) of bulk wheat grain
have arrived at the Kirkuk silo complex since 12 June. WFP
expects to be able soon to offload 6,000 MT per day at the
Kirkuk silo. Food distributions are proceeding apace in
Kirkuk and Mosul. Local purchase of the wheat harvest has
not yet begun in earnest because silos in the Kirkuk area
are apparently still not ready to receive wheat. Food
distributions are continuing without major problems in As
Sulaymaniyah governorate, with May's wheat flour
distribution approximately 65 percent complete. WFP wants
to incorporate vulnerability assessments into its monthly
monitoring activities in the three northern governorates.
As Sulaymaniyah farmers continue to harvest a bumper wheat
crop, but are pessimistic about other marketing
possibilities in Iran. Populations in the former Ansar al-
Islam areas are pleased that radical elements have departed,
although residents are concerned about housing, employment,
and food distributions. End Summary.

Bulk Wheat Grain Arrives in Kirkuk

2. DART Team North food officer traveled to Kirkuk on 14
June and found the World Food Program (WFP) receiving a
portion of 135,000 MT of bulk wheat grain. The 135,000 MT
of wheat grain will be stored at the main Kirkuk silo
complex, which is being guarded by Coalition forces.
Approximately 20,000 MT has been offloaded and WFP-
contracted trucks from Syria are waiting outside the silo
for their turn to empty their load. An estimated 390
trucks, with approximately 16,000 MT of wheat grain have
arrived since 12 June. The silo has been unable to receive
this quantity of wheat grain in a timely manner. On 12
June, WFP was able to offload 3,250 MT during the hours the
silo was operating.

--------------------------------------------- -------
Vacuvators to Increase the Speed of Grain Offloading
--------------------------------------------- -------

3. WFP recently airlifted four new vacuvators from Belgium
and one additional vacuvator is expected soon for the Kirkuk
silo. The five vacuvators are expected to triple the
offload capacity of the silo, but so far have not performed
to this level. The vacuvators' performance is improving
daily as the technician who accompanied the four vacuvators
works to increase their off-take. WFP has not paid for the
vacuvators, and payment is contingent on them operating as
per the performance specifications. WFP expects that by
getting the vacuvators to work more efficiently, and by
leasing other equipment, it can increase offload capacity to
6,000 MT per day. WFP has provided USD 5,000 for repairs to
the silo and for a new generator.

--------------------------------------------- ---------
Public Distribution System Status for Kirkuk and Mosul
--------------------------------------------- ---------

4. The Public Distribution System (PDS) is continuing
apace, with Kirkuk having completed distributions for
approximately 40 percent of wheat flour and other ration
commodities except rice, which is just starting to be
distributed. Mosul has distributed approximately 50 percent
of wheat flour, 25 percent of other ration commodities, and
is also just beginning the rice distributions. In a move to
begin shifting responsibility for the PDS back to the
Ministry of Trade (MOT), WFP in Kirkuk has signed over
responsibility of all ration commodities to the MOT, and is
now implementing only primary transport, offloading, and
monitoring. WFP and the MOT sign the waybills for receipt
at the silo or warehouse, and MOT is then responsible for
coordinating food agents' transport and distributions.
However, WFP remains ultimately accountable to its donors
for ensuring that the commodities are distributed properly.
Hence, WFP maintains its monitoring function.

--------------------------------------------- --
Central versus Governorate MOT Responsibilities
--------------------------------------------- --

5. WFP is getting along with the Kirkuk MOT but not so
well with the Mosul MOT, which is in direct contrast from
the situation several weeks ago. WFP has still not been
able to sign over commodity responsibilities for wheat flour
and bulk wheat to the MOT in Mosul, due to the lack of clear
and timely instructions received from the Central MOT in
Baghdad. The MOT's departmental capacities at the
governorate level vary widely as to how much responsibility
the governorates are prepared to take on without continually
expecting Baghdad to provide guidance. The MOT in Mosul
seems to be especially dependent on Baghdad for guidance.
WFP does expect the official handover to be complete in
Mosul and Tikrit within the coming days, even though WFP
international staff is prevented from going to Tikrit due to
continued security restrictions. DART Team North food
officer reports, however, that the WFP national staff in
Tikrit is doing a very efficient job.

Local Purchase Preparations

6. DART Team North food officer recently visited the
Riyadh silo, located approximately 40 kilometers southwest
of Kirkuk, near the town of Al Hawijah. There is no actual
silo, but rather 30 open bins with a large holding capacity
of more than 100,000 MT. Two bins are filled with last
year's wheat harvest. Coalition forces are guarding the
silo compound. Farmers have been asking silo staff when
they will be able to deliver their harvested wheat.
However, the weighing scales, laboratory testing equipment,
and office furniture were stolen and have not yet been
replaced. The main constraint to starting the delivery of
wheat to the silo is the missing scales. Staff at the silo
complex was unaware when this equipment will be replaced,
whether the USD 50,000 from the Office of the Coalition
Provisional Authority (OCPA) for the use by the MOT to make
preparations for the wheat harvest had been received or if
the MOT funds can provide for replacement of the scales,
laboratory equipment, and office furniture. (Note: DART Team
North reports that it is not aware of the USD 50,000
payments being received by any MOT office in the northern
governorates. End Note.) When farmers may be able to
deliver their harvest to this reception site is still
uncertain. DART Team North Food Officer expects to assess
whether other silo complexes in At Tamim governorate may be
better prepared to receive the local wheat harvest.

7. The local guard at the silo complex was concerned that
other silo employees had received the USD 20 payment and the
subsequent USD 30 emergency payments, but he had received
nothing. As guards were apparently not listed on the former
regime's payrolls, they did not receive payments. DART Team
North reports it has heard this concern time and again from
security guards. (Comment: This non-payment issue is
ironic because the silo guards seem to be the only warehouse
and silo employees who continually report for a full
workday. End Comment.)

--------------------------------------------- ----
As Sulaymaniyah PDS Distributions and Assessments
--------------------------------------------- ----

8. DART Team North Food Officer traveled to As
Sulaymaniyah governorate on 10-11 June, and visited
locations including Chwarta, Penjwin, Halabja and the former
Ansar al-Islam areas of Biara and Tewalla. The head of
WFP's sub-office in As Sulaymaniyah reported that PDS
distributions were proceeding efficiently, and that May's
wheat flour distributions were approximately 65 percent
complete. Other food ration commodities are delayed pending
secondary transport contracted by the local authorities and
paid for by the food agents. Once the wheat flour
distribution is nearly complete, transport availability will
increase, and the additional food ration commodities can be
distributed within a short period.

9. The head of WFP's sub-office in As Sulaymaniyah stated
that WFP staff in the three northern governorates wants to
begin to incorporate detailed vulnerability assessments into
its monthly monitoring. The assessments will determine
where needs may continue after the PDS ends, and if in fact
there are still critical needs to be met. DART Team North
supports WFP's interest in conducting vulnerability
assessments. These assessments provide an excellent
opportunity for WFP to begin looking at future needs while
still having a large experienced team in place already
monitoring needs on a regular basis.

10. According to the DART Team North food officer, farmers
and other beneficiaries in the eastern As Sulaymaniyah
governorate towns of Chwarta, Penjwin, and Halabjah reported
that they had received only wheat flour from WFP since
March. Some but not all farmers were aware of the $105 per
MT wheat offer for this year's harvest. A significant
number of farmers stated that they would not sell their
wheat for this price, given the high costs for harvesting
the grain and transporting it (up to 200 kilometers) for
sale in Kirkuk, the nearest sanctioned reception site. A
number of farmers reported that any wheat available above
the level necessary to feed their families would become
fodder for their livestock. Penjwin is located on the
Iranian border, but local farmers reported that there is
very little cross-border trading for selling their wheat
inside Iran.

Former Ansar Areas: Biara/Tewella

11. Ansar al-Islam was a radical Islamic group that
controlled a number of villages on the Iranian border,
including the towns of Biara and Tewella. These areas were
isolated from the rest of Kurdistan, so visitors and traders
were not able to easily access the area, but WFP commodities
were regularly permitted entry. DART Team North food
officer reports that there appears to be very little
commercial or other business activity in these areas.
Locals stated that trade with Iran is nearly non-existent,
although many homes in the border town of Tewella did have
satellite dishes. According to residents, Ansar al-Islam
had Turkish, Bangladeshi, Afghani, Syrian, and Palestinian
elements, including Kurds, until they were recently forcibly
evicted. Being isolated from the remainder of Iraqi
Kurdistan, the Islamic authorities had reportedly banned
alcohol, music, and satellite TV, except apparently for the
Al Jazeera channel. Even smoking and participating in
sports were forbidden. Most of the Ansar group were said to
have now fled into Iran, only meters from Tewella town.

12. Tewella residents expressed concern that food
commodities were delayed due to the need to contract "PUK"
vehicles. As stated above, secondary transport is
contracted by the local authorities on behalf of the food
agents, and therefore is often seen as PUK-friendly
transporters. DART Team North will assess whether the need
to contract PUK vehicles is indeed causing transport delays.
Approximately 200 families from Biara are currently living
in tents outside the town due to the recent fighting that
destroyed their homes.

13. WFP staff also noted that even in the former Ansar al-
Islam areas of control, WFP was always able to deliver food
through local transporters, though WFP staff was unable to
monitor distributions. The PKK, the Turkish Kurd rebel
group, has some supporters in the far northern governorate
of As Sulaymaniyah, and the area remains a dangerous place.
The WFP staff is still unable to access deep into these
areas for monitoring purposes, although deliveries do


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