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Cablegate: Kuwait Humanitarian Operations Center Scheduled To

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KUWAIT 001061

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID MOPS PREL KU IZ KUWAIT IRAQ RELATIONS
SUBJECT: KUWAIT HUMANITARIAN OPERATIONS CENTER SCHEDULED TO
CLOSE IN MARCH

1. (U) SUMMARY: Ambassador met with Lieutenant General Ali
Al-Mumin (ret), Chief of the Humanitarian Operations Center
(HOC), at the HOC's facilities on March 13, 2005. Al-Mumin
described the accomplishments made by the HOC over the past
two years, the disbursement of $5 million USD that Kuwait has
donated to Najaf, and the impact that closing the HOC would
have on the United Nations, United States, Kuwait and Iraq.
Ambassador subsequently spoke to the Undersecretary of the
Foreign Ministry to recommend once again extending the life
of the HOC. END SUMMARY.

2. (U) On March 13, 2005, Ambassador met with LTG Ali
Al-Mumin (ret), Chief of the HOC, and US military officers
assigned to the HOC to discuss the HOC's operations.
Al-Mumin began by explaining that the HOC has been
operational since January 2003 and falls under the Ministry
of Foreign Affairs (MFA). He described the purpose of the
HOC as: facilitating the transfer of donated humanitarian aid
from NGOs, military, and governments through Kuwait to Iraq.
He added that the HOC also helps identify needs in Iraq and
matches those needs with willing donors. According to
Al-Mumin, over the past two years the HOC has arranged for
the transportation of everything from heaters and bedding to
medical supplies and temporary shelters.

3. (U) Five million dollars of Kuwait's pledged aid has been
earmarked for distribution to Najaf through the HOC, Al-Mumin
said. He explained that the money for Najaf has been split
into two separate funds. The first $2 million was used for
cash grants, foodstuffs, heaters and other small items. The
remaining $3 million is being used to build housing. The
plan, he continued, is to allow the displaced children (and
others) to remain in these houses until they are of age (21)
and able to support themselves. Once this happens, they must
leave the house so that another needy family can move in.

4. (U) Al-Mumin went on to say that distributing the money
in Iraq has not been easy. His preferred method of
disbursement was to give the money directly to the local
government in Najaf, reasoning that they are better able to
identify the most needy projects in their town. However, he
said, during one of his trips to the area he heard complaints
that the money was not going to the right charities and that
preference was being given to those with connections to
government officials. He concluded by saying that
"corruption" is a real concern in Iraq and that he has had to
closely monitor the distribution of the $5 million in Najaf
and has traveled to Najaf on three occasions to check on the
program.

5. (U) According to the original charter for the HOC, its
scheduled closure date was over a year ago. Since then the
HOC has received 3-month extensions, the last of which,
Al-Mumin confirmed, is scheduled to expire on March 31, 2005,
effectively closing the HOC permanently. Al-Mumin said that
he will speak with MFA Undersecretary Khalid Al-Jarallah
about another extension, but admits that he is frustrated
with receiving only 3-month extensions. This time, he plans
to ask for a longer extension, preferably one that extends
the HOC's operations to December 2005.

6. (U) If the HOC closes, Al-Mumin explained, the burden of
facilitating donations to Iraq would fall on the individual
ministries. As an example, he said medical supplies would
need to be sent through the Ministry of Health and
educational funds and materials sent through the Ministry of
Education. Right now, he said, the HOC takes care of
coordinating everything with the ministries, the NGOs and the
governments. He also added that the United Nations may be
expected to start handling some of the humanitarian aid, a
job that he does not feel they are prepared to take on at
this time. He was also particularly concerned about
replicating the HOC's role vis-a-vis Iraqi refugees who find
themselves in Kuwait.

7. (U) The Ambassador praised the work that the HOC has
accomplished over the past two years and told Al-Mumin that
the HOC should be used as a model for future post-conflict
humanitarian aid programs.

8. (U) COMMENT: The HOC is a useful and integral component
to Kuwait's assistance program for Iraq. Closing it now
would be premature, send the wrong message, and complicate
the GOK's program of aid to Iraq. On March 8, Embassy, in
coordination with US military forces in Kuwait, sent a
diplomatic note requesting that the GOK continue support for
the HOC. The Ambassador also raised this issue with MFA
Undersecretary Al-Jarallah on March 14. U/S Al-Jarallah
indicated that another extension might be considered. He
noted, however, that the GOK is also working with the United
Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) office in Kuwait
to assume the HOC's responsibilities should the HOC close, as
scheduled, on March 31, 2005. END COMMENT.

9. (U) Baghdad minimized considered.
LEBARON

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