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

VZCZCXRO4111
PP RUEHBC RUEHDA RUEHDE RUEHKUK
DE RUEHIHL #0152/01 3161640
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 121640Z NOV 07
FM REO HILLAH
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0982
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE
RUEHIHL/REO HILLAH 1046

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HILLAH 000152

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PREF PREL PGOV SOCI IZ
SUBJECT: NAJAF LEADERS ASKED USG TO HELP FUND IDP CAMP PROJECTS


HILLAH 00000152 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
SUMMARY

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

HILLAH 00000152 002.2 OF 002


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
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
AMBASSADOR

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