Cablegate: Najaf Leaders Asked Usg to Help Fund Idp Camp Projects

DE RUEHIHL #0151/01 3161640
P 121640Z NOV 07





E.O. 12958: N/A

HILLAH 00000151 001.2 OF 002

This is a PRT Reporting Cable

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Members of the Najaf Provincial Council (PC)
requested USG assistance to fund some Najaf projects, especially
at the internally displaced persons (IDP) camp, during a
November 8 Najaf PRT visit to the IDP camp in Manathera and a
subsequent meeting at the PC offices. Ali Al Fayad, Director
General (DG) of the Najaf Department of Displacement and
Migration, pleaded immediately for USG funds to secure a school
for the 265 families residing at the IDP camp at the beginning
of the meeting. He noted that children were injured by oncoming
traffic as they crossed highways to reach a school two miles
away. In addition, during a walkthrough of the camp, PRT
members noted that most families were living in made-shift
tents. Ali underscored the importance of upgrading to caravans
for the families as winter approaches but also lamented the lack
of financial support from both the USG and Baghdad. More
positively, Ali assured PRT Leader that the camp residents have
complete freedom of movement, and that sufficient food is
provided by the Public Distribution System (PDS). In terms of
security, each family had to provide detailed personal
information in order to register as camp residents and receive
official identification. The meeting ended on a positive note
as the DG stated that some former Baghdad residents have begun
returning to Baghdad in the last two months, though he added
that Najaf is still receiving IDPs from other provinces. END

2. (U) On November 8, Najaf PRT Leader and members observed
acceptable living conditions during a first visit to the IDP
camp in Manathera that was established by the Red Crescent in
March this year. The PRT met with Ali Al Fayad, Director
General (DG) of the Najaf Department of Displacement and
Migration (MoDM), Dr. Muneer Al Ja'aafri, a PC member and Chair
of the PC IDP Committee, Dr. Nawal Al Ibrahimi (female), a
member of the PC and its IDP Committee, and Mazin Al Shihani, a
Baghdad PC member and Chair of Baghdad PC IDP Committee. DG Ali
asked immediately for the USG help in setting up a new school
for children of the camp. He also stated that all the
made-shift resident tents have to be upgraded to covered
caravans for the winter, which at present are too costly to
purchase. Other issues discussed included medical help, freedom
of movement, and camp registration, all of which were
satisfactory. The PC offered no long-term strategy in
resettling the Manathera and other IDP residents, however.

Funds to Build a School on Site
3. (SBU) Right off the bat, DG Ali lamented at the beginning of
the meeting of "too little support" from the USG and pleaded for
funding to help build a school for the children who settled at
the Manathera camp. He also complained that funds promised by
the central government were not delivered to help out the IDP
camp, which is already at full capacity. Around 2500 people
currently reside at the camp, 550 of which are children. The
nearest school is located two miles away and children of all
ages walk to the school. Several children were involved in
traffic accidents crossing several major roads during their
daily commute. The DG had several ideas for the children
including building a 6-caravan/classroom school on site, or
purchasing several buses to transport the children to school.
DG Ali quoted the price of USD18,000 for each of these bigger
schoolroom caravans. He indicated that the PC will supply
school teachers and school materials if the location can be
built. (Note: PRT will attempt to fund this through a QRF
project. End Note) Building a school appeared to be DG Ali's top
concern for the Manathera camp.

200 Caravans Needed, Only 117 Funded
4. (U) During a walkthrough of the PRT group with DG Ali, PRT
members noticed the deteriorating conditions of the made-shift
tents, some of which were torn. Ali indicated that sandstorms
often destroy the tents, and in addition, the tents need to be
upgraded to caravans before winter arrives. According to Ali,
some PC funds initially budgeted for building a school elsewhere
had been reallocated to Manathera, although he did not indicate
the total amount. These funds have been earmarked for the
purchase of 117 caravans, some of which were already installed
at the time of the visit. A total of 200 caravans is needed but
the budget allows only for the purchase of 117, falling short by
83 caravans. Each caravan, costing USD5000 each, comes with
windows, air-conditioning, and a bathroom with plumbing. The
price appears comparable if delivery is included.

Madhlum for Najaf-born Persons Only
5. (U) On the question of resettlement efforts at Madhlum,
another area in Najaf designated for IDPs, DG Ali preferred to
refer to it as the Madhlum "low-income housing" area, to
distinguish it from Manathera. He stated that Madhlum is only

HILLAH 00000151 002.2 OF 002

offered to low-income "Najaf residents," thereby reaffirming
earlier PRT reporting that Madhlum disqualifies most IDPs with
its requirement of Najaf-born residents only. While Manathera
camp was created to host IDPs who were living in random areas of
Najaf city, Madhlum was designated for Najaf-born persons only.

Registration, Freedom of Movement, Medical Care
--------------------------------------------- --
6. (U) DG Ali assured PRT Leader that each entrant to camp is
vetted through a thorough registration process requiring
detailed personal information. A PDS card is required for
registration, and in return, food and fuel rations are provided
to the residents. The province does not receive in return any
reimbursement from Baghdad for the food and fuel expenses,
however. The DG office issues an official letter to successful
applicants, along with an identification number and card. With
the card, all camp residents are free to leave the area as they
wish. Some managed to find work in the city. There is also a
medical facility on site that coordinates with the DG hospital
in the city. The facility charges a nominal fee for medicine.

Rumbling Below the Surface?
7. (SBU) Although the camp appears tranquil during the visit,
and DG Ali assured PRT Leader that disputes among residents were
settled peacefully, PRT member observed the annoyance of one
resident against the PRT visit. During the PRT group's
walkthrough of the camp, a woman dressed in an abaya abruptly
snatched away her infant toddler who stood with other children,
curious at the spectacle of "the visiting Americans." She
walked away in disgust carrying the crying child and disappeared
into one of the tents.

Biography: DG Ali Al Fayad
8. (SBU) Ali resides in Karbala and travels regularly to
Manathera to manage the camp. A soft-spoken and direct person,
Ali appears to be frank in his opinion of the USG and the
central government. He was born in 1969 in Thi-Qar province and
graduated from the Teachers Institute in Thi-Qar province. He
is currently a third year law student at the College of Law in
Karbala, in addition to being the Director General of Najaf at
the Ministry of Displacement and Migration. He is married and
has no party affiliation.

9. (SBU) COMMENT: Although living conditions at the Manathera
camp appeared acceptable, the camp only hosts 265 families, or
approximately five percent, of the 10,000 IDP families currently
residing in Najaf. Each day, 20 to 30 new families still enter
Najaf from Baghdad. These numbers are an improvement from the
70 or so families who used to move to Najaf everyday during the
height of sectarian violence in Baghdad. Most significantly,
starting two months ago, Najaf province started to see the
returning of some Baghdad IDPs back to the capital, although
there are still refugees arriving in Najaf from other (Sunni
majority) provinces. The DG indicated that around 150 IDP
families in Najaf have thus far returned to Baghdad. Whether
more IDPs would return to Baghdad, and begin a trend, depends
highly on the security situation in Baghdad, which has improved
in some areas of Baghdad to the point where some Shi'a refugees
have prepared to give return a chance. END COMMENT



© Scoop Media

World Headlines


ADC: Statement On The Assassination Of Shireen Abu Akleh

Early this morning in Jenin, Occupied Palestine, revered Palestinian voice Shireen Abu Akleh, a Palestinian American journalist for Al Jazeera, was assassinated by Israeli Occupation Forces snipers...

Ukraine: UN Rights Office Probe Spotlights Harrowing Plight Of Civilians

Almost 76 days since Russia invaded Ukraine, countless civilians remain caught up in the horror and destruction of war, UN rights investigators said on Tuesday... More>>

UN: Michele Bachelet On Inter-religious Clashes In Ethiopia

I am deeply distressed by the recent violent clashes between Muslims and Orthodox Christians in Ethiopia in which at least 30 people were reportedly killed and more than 100 others injured... More>>

Access Now: Elon Musk’s Twitter Buyout Must Not Come At The Expense Of Human Rights

Following today’s announcement that Elon Musk will acquire complete ownership of Twitter in a cash sale of around 44 billion USD, pending shareholder approval, Access Now urges Twitter’s Board, employees, and shareholders... More>>

UN: Biodiversity And Ecosystem Protection Highlighted On Mother Earth Day

Marking International Mother Earth Day, UN General Assembly President Abdulla Shahid urged on Friday, for collective action to safeguard biodiversity and protect ecosystems... More>>

Ukraine: Hundreds More Reach Safety After Fleeing Besieged Mariupol
In Ukraine, humanitarians said on Wednesday that hundreds of people have managed to reach safety after fleeing Mariupol, where there’s also been condemnation for the killing of Lithuanian filmmaker Mantas Kvedaravicius... More>>