INDEPENDENT NEWS

Cablegate: Dart Assessment of Karbala

Published: Tue 20 May 2003 09:20 AM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 KUWAIT 002134
SIPDIS
STATE ALSO PASS USAID/W
STATE PLEASE REPEAT TO IO COLLECTIVE
STATE FOR PRM/ANE, EUR/SE, NEA/NGA, IO AND SA/PAB
NSC FOR EABRAMS, SMCCORMICK, STAHIR-KHELI, JDWORKEN
USAID FOR USAID/A, DCHA/AA, DCHA/RMT, DCHA/FFP
USAID FOR DCHA/OTI, DCHA/DG, ANE/AA
USAID FOR DCHA/OFDA:WGARVELINK, BMCCONNELL, KFARNSWORTH
USAID FOR ANE/AA:WCHAMBERLIN
ROME FOR FODAG
GENEVA FOR RMA AND NKYLOH
ANKARA FOR AMB WRPEARSON, ECON AJSIROTIC AND DART
AMMAN FOR USAID AND DART
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID PREF IZ WFP
SUBJECT: DART ASSESSMENT OF KARBALA
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SUMMARY
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1. DART Field Team West traveled to Karbala to meet with
local officials and gather assessment information on 15
May. The population is generally friendly and happy with
the Coalition presence. There have been neither threats to
Coalition forces nor targeted incidents. Sixty Iraqi police
officers have been trained by Coalition forces with police
experience. There are a total of 830 police officers now
active in Karbala. End Summary.
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FOOD
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2. The DART met with U.N. World Food Program (WFP) staff,
Ministry of Trade (MOT) silo manager, and Coalition forces.
The DART discussed overall food needs in Karbala area and
confirmed positive WFP assessment of the public distribution
system (PDS), observed initial arrivals of WFP rice
deliveries, and confirmed wheat grain stocks in the Karbala
grain silo.
3. WFP's ten-person national staff is established and
operational at the MOT warehouse. Two additional staff,
office and communications equipment, and other operational
support are due to arrive soon. WFP has assisted MOT in
planning initial PDS activities, including the release of
wheat grain for milling, followed by a flour delivery to
beneficiaries beginning on 17 May and a rice distribution to
begin the first part of June.
4. The DART confirmed that the Coalition has vacated the
grain silo property. The MOT silo manager claims that
Coalition forces removed property from the silo grounds and
has presented an inventory of missing items to battalion
headquarters. The DART discussed this issue with a
Coalition representative who stated that he would follow-up
to determine a course of action. Among the items on the MOT
list are two tractor-trailer cabs, tools, several computers,
office furniture, and cash from the office safe.
WFP staff and silo manager asked DART to inquire about
security assistance from Coalition forces during the
upcoming food deliveries. The Coalition source told the
DART that frequent patrols and visible presence by Coalition
forces in the area of the silo and warehouses could be
established and stated that he would follow-up for possible
action.
5. WFP stated that public service messages regarding PDS
had been received and should be improved. Information should
be focused on instructions to food agents and should include
precise dates for ration distributions, the per person
quantity of food to be received and the ration basket
contents. Beneficiaries will be expecting this information
as a normal function of PDS.
6. WFP and DART discovered unexploded ordnance (UXO) in one
area of the MOT warehouse complex. DART requested and
received an initial UXO assessment by Coalition forces that
confirmed UXO contamination. A request for UXO removal and
a general mine sweep of the warehouse area has been made
with a planned sweep set for 18 May.
7. The DART confirmed that all MOT staff in Karbala
received USD 20 emergency payments and is in contact with
MOT Baghdad.
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SECURITY
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8. Challenges in Karbala include a large minefield near the
"Karbala gap" close to the main cemetery; significant
amounts of UXOs in the city; and the "Karbala Protection
Force" (KPF) who are to be disbanded by Saturday and have
acted as a separate, vigilante type police force with
considerable criminal element. There are, however, joint
patrols with Coalition forces, the police, and the KPF.
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MEDIA AND COMMUNICATIONS
------------------------
9. There are newspapers in Karbala, and the former state TV
station is operating six hours per day. Included in the
broadcast are UXO and public health messages. Of Karbala's
population, 40 to 50 percent own televisions, and the rest
rely on coffee shops and restaurants to get TV news and
programming.
10. Interviews with local residents provided mixed reviews
of Radio SAWA. The biggest complaints were repetitive news
and music. The most popular news broadcast was BBC. Many
asked the DART why they could no longer receive Voice of
America.
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COALITION PRIORITIES FOR KARBALA
--------------------------------
11. The DART witnessed a well-organized and proficient
effort by Coalition forces to restore services to Karbala.
The DART was briefed on several rehabilitation priorities
for Karbala including:
-- Police professionalism and training: A 30-officer
training cadre has been established to increase proficiency
of local police forces. Coalition forces are supporting the
Karbala Police Department by providing uniforms,
communications equipment, vehicles, weapons and ammunition.
-- Disbanding former militia: The Karbala Protective Force
has been deemed antagonistic to rehabilitation efforts and
will be disbanded by Coalition forces.
-- Water: The water system is functioning, but it is
contaminated and contributes to chronic gastro-intestinal
problems among Karbala populace. Four water purification
units have been provided for Karbala hospitals. The water
administration headquarters functions at 50 percent and a
secure chlorine supply is needed. The International Rescue
Committee and CARE are present and working on water
problems.
-- Electricity: Electricity is reported at pre-war levels
of 75 percent. Coalition forces are repairing suspension
and transmission lines.
-- Education: One hundred-thirty school buildings have
been cleared of UXO, and battalion teams have begun
renovation of five school buildings for various levels of
students, including adults. Textbooks and curriculum
development were identified as priority needs.
-- Fuel: There have been no LPG deliveries in the last 30
days and benzene is in short supply.
-- Refuse and Sewage: Coalition forces have established a
garbage landfill outside town limits, but it is under-
utilized. The former regime flooded the sewage system with
diesel fuel rendering the system inoperable.
-- UXO and mines are considered a serious and long-term
issue. Coalition forces have been mapping UXO sites, and
removal teams are in the area.
-- Civil Administration: A city council has been
appointed, but it is untrained and not yet vetted.
12. Many of these priorities will increase employment
opportunities. Coalition forces estimate unemployment to be
as high as 85 to 90 percent.
JONES
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