Cablegate: Diyala Prt: Idps Continue to Face

DE RUEHGB #3684/01 3101522
R 061522Z NOV 07




E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (U) This is a Diyala PRT reporting cable.


2. (SBU) Summary: Management challenges continue to constrain the
Diyala provincial government's capacity to address issues
confronting the estimated 52,000 internally displace persons (IDPs)
currently living in Diyala. Housing, education, health, and
employment for IDPs remain major areas of concern. A recently
established provincial level working committee is beginning to show
signs of progress; however, much work remains to be done to
strengthen policies governing voting rights, registration,
identification, ration card issuance, and access to the public
distribution system. Other identified areas for improvement include
a need for additional NGOs that provide assistance to IDPs and
improved coordination between existing organizations. The PRT,
using new data from an August 2007 survey by NGO Mercy Corps, is
helping the provincial government to synchronize efforts with GOI
ministries to improve existing conditions for IDPs. End Summary.

IDPs in Diyala
3. (U) Diyala Province has a protracted history of displacement over
the last four decades, mostly the product of war and Saddam
Hussein's regime. The Iraq Ministry of Displacement and Migration
(MoDM) estimates that about 12,000 displaced families live in Diyala
province. According to MoDM, significant numbers were displaced
between the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003 and the
first bombing of the Shia Samarra mosque in Salah ad Din Province in
February 2006. MoDM estimates that following the bombing, 440
families or 70 percent were displaced as a result of the widespread
sectarian violence that ensued. Using the NGO Mercy Corps' figure
for average family size in Diyala (4.3 persons/family), PRT
estimates there are currently 51,600 displaced persons in Diyala
province, and that 36,292 of these were displaced post February
2006. According to Mercy Corps' historical analysis, IDP families
relocated to Diyala due to religious, political or ethnic
discrimination, and the overall deterioration of security within

4. (U) Diyala province is a mixed society of Sunni, Shia, Kurds,
Turkomen, Assyrians, and other minority groups. Sunnis are the
majority sect, and 77 percent of IDPs are Sunni. Most IDP families
in Diyala come from Baghdad (78 percent), Babil (five percent),
Wasit (four percent) and Anbar (three percent) provinces.
Interestingly, eight percent of families are displaced from within
Diyala. The Mercy Corps survey determined that while the rate of
displacement has slowed in 2007, compared to 2006, a higher number
of families have already been displaced in 2007 as compared to 2005.
In terms of demographics, the survey revealed that almost all of
Diyala's IDPs are Arab (98 percent), Kurds make up one percent and
other minority groups make up less than one percent. Seventy-seven
percent of the families are Sunni and 23 percent are Shia, with the
vast majority of the Shia families located in al-Muqdadiya, Baquba,
and Balad Ruz. With provincial elections on the horizon, it is
significant that 51 percent of the IDP population is under the age
of 20. Forty-four percent of the IDPs are female, and 76 percent
are single.

Current IDP Issues

5. (U) Diyala IDPs continue to experience significant problems with
housing, education, health, and employment services. To begin to
address these problems, the provincial government has named
Assistant Governor Imad Jaleel Abdullah to oversee all IDP issues.
Other limited services available to IDPs include the MoDM, which
maintains an office in Baqubah headed by Director General (DG)
Gazwan Mujeeb with a staff of five. DG Mujeeb works closely with
the PRT and Coalition Forces (CF) on IDP issues. However, he and his
staff are severely constrained by limited resources, which inhibit
his ability to travel to and identify IDP locations.

Tense Working Relationship with NGOs

6. (SBU) There is a tense relationship between DG Mujeeb and Mercy
Corps, which currently works only in the Malik Shah Camp in
Khanaqin, northern Diyala, where it has provided invaluable
assistance in the areas of education, health and the creation of
permanent homes, working through local governments. However, Mercy
Corps refuses to work with DG Mujeeb, claiming he has no authority
over the organization. DG Mujeeb disagrees, claiming that he is in
possession of a memorandum from the MoDM, which states that all NGOs
in the province are required to work with the DG. However, he has
been unable to produce the memo. Other organizations working in the
region on IDP issues include the Iraqi Red Crescent, but the quality
of its assistance is unknown. There also are reports that the Red
Crescent only provides aid to certain groups, and that these groups
are not always the ones in greatest need. A Danish NGO, with a

BAGHDAD 00003684 002 OF 003

focus on cattle breeding, is known to be working in the town of
Baqubah. No other NGOs are known to be actively working with IDPs
in Diyala.

IDP Housing

7. (U) According to Mercy Corps, 92 percent of the IDPs live in
rented houses or flats (83 percent in urban settings), while five
percent live in tents or other informal housing. PRT discussions
with DG Mujeeb and visits to IDP areas confirm that multiple
families are housed in small, single family dwellings, placing
enormous strains on already scarce resources such as food, sewage
and water. The Mercy Corps study calculated that only 83 percent of
families have the means to purchase trucked or tanker water, while
seven percent access water from wells. Ninety-seven percent of the
IDP families have access to varying amounts of power from the main
electric network system, but over 30 percent are without adequate
sewage systems. The combination of these factors has created
significant health concerns for IDPs.

Limited Health Care Options for IDPs

8. (U) Many health practitioners in the province have departed due
to fear for their personal safety from militias and insurgents.
Medical supplies are in short supply at provincial hospitals and
clinics. Currently, there are nine hospitals and 75 Ministry of
Health clinics in Diyala; however, Mercy Corps reports that 91
percent of IDP families do not know the location of the nearest
public hospital or clinic. Mercy Corps notes that roughly three
percent of IDPs suffer from chronic diseases such as diabetes,
anemia, high blood pressure, stomach diseases, and heart disease.
The combination of long distances to medical facilities, medical
supply shortages at medical facilities, and limited means for
transport denies medical treatment to many of the chronically ill
and children of IDPs.

Education Prospects Slightly Brighter for IDPs
--------------------------------------------- -

9. (U) Mercy Corps reports that 48 percent of the IDP population
over 10 years of age does not attend secondary school, and that the
majority of families (68 percent) travel 1-3 kilometers to the
nearest primary school. The Provincial Council (PC) has an active
Education Committee, which has made the education of IDP children,
particularly those in the northern areas, a primary focus. As most
of the female members of this four member committee are from
Khanqin, in the north, this focus is likely to continue. They have,
in the last month, successfully approached the Ministry of Education
to produce a letter that allows IDP children in the Khanaqin area to
be accepted into the schools, regardless of their places of origin.
The Committee has worked with communities to renovate at least one
school in the Khanaqin area for use by IDP children. Assistant
Governor Imad has been receptive to suggestions from the PRT that he
work with the DG of Education to ensure that IDP children are
registered for schools.

Employment, Social Safety Network,
and Compensation Payments

10. (U) According to Mercy Corps, nearly half (48 percent) of IDPs
over 15 years of age are unemployed, and the majority of IDP
households (93 percent) earn less than USD 120 per month. There is
a proposal for consideration by the GOI for an IDP center in Baqubah
for counseling and job placement. Assistant Governor Imad has begun
establishing offices in each local government to handle social
safety net matters.

11. (U) Mercy Corps reports efforts continue to set up meetings
with the ministries of Social Affairs and Migration to locate funds
that the disabled had been receiving as recently as six months ago.
The plan is to set up an office in each local government center and
authorize staff hiring for the social safety net. Efforts are also
being made to collect USD 30 million promised to Diyala's
reconstruction efforts by the Prime Minister, so that funds and easy
loans can be allocated to IDP families. The MoDM has authorized the
hiring of ten persons, even though a meeting of the DG of Migration,
the DG of Social Safety net and the Deputy DG of Retirement in late
August 2007 confirmed that the migration budget is often so limited
that the GOI is unable to pay the entire year's salary to employees.

12. (U) Currently, each IDP must obtain a returnee certificate from
the Mayor and Iraq Police from the area they are trying to depart,
in addition to a ration card and ID, in order to be added to the
database that will allow them to receive compensation when it has
been approved. According to Mercy Corps, compensation payments to
IDPs are being stymied by poorly organized databases. The Diyala
database has not been updated for many years, and it appears that an

BAGHDAD 00003684 003 OF 003

unknown number of persons are duplicated on various lists. The MoDM
claims that 12,000 Diyala families are eligible for compensation of
Iraqi Dinar (IQD) 150,000 (USD 122) for six months, to help them to
return to their homes. However, outdated and incomplete IDP lists
have slowed compensation payouts. An efficient system for
registering new IDPs and a method of disbursement (checks, cash from
the bank, cash delivered at the local government center) of payments
are also needed.

13. (U) The Mercy Corps report states there are significant food
distribution challenges for IDPs. DG Mujeeb of MoDM says he can
sign up IDPs for ration cards, but they have to individually sign
for the ID cards, since they have various origins. The current
system for the allocation of ID cards to IDPs is in disrepair. DG
Mujeeb claims that limited resources do not allow him to visit IDP
areas; in addition to transportation issues, IDPs without IDs are
afraid to risk the various checkpoints to get to Baqubah to apply
for their ID cards. These conditions have led to the failure of IDP
families to register, preventing access to ration and ID cards.
Without ration and ID cards, IDPs cannot access the PDS leading to
malnutrition, ill health, an inability to seek work, or travel to

14. (U) Voting remains a challenge for IDPs, according to the Mercy
Corps report. A provision for voter ID cards is fast becoming a
critical concern and need within the province. A federal system,
authorizing IDPs to vote in the provinces in which they currently
reside, could help prevent disenfranchisement in upcoming elections
for many IDPs who remain fearful of returning to their homes.
Currently, each province is responsible for developing voting
policies for IDPs. The Diyala PC has yet to determine its IDP voting
policy. PRT Diyala is pressing the PC to address this issue.


15. (SBU) The IDP situation in Diyala continues to be characterized
by poor administration, weak and ineffective policies, inadequate
resources, and poor coordination between the federal, provincial,
and local levels of government. An additional concern is the lack
of an IDP voting policy, which must be addressed given the
likelihood of national and provincial elections in the near future.
The PRT will continue to work with the provincial government to
address IDP issues and seek to improve the conditions under which
IDPs must live. PRT will also work to identify NGOs working on IDP
issues and continue to push for an active IDP working committee at
the level of the Assistant Governor for Humanitarian Affairs. End


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