Iraq

Iraq: Weekly Update 10 - 17 Jun 2003

Format
Situation Report
Source
Posted
Originally published
1. KEY DEVELOPMENTS
The Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG), Mr. Sergio Vieira de Mello, participated in the national weekly meeting with NGOs in Baghdad on 10 June. The SRSG stressed the importance of the role of NGOs in addressing the needs of the Iraqi population. He also advised that Political Affairs Officers (PAO) would be joining the UN teams in the field soon and invited the NGO community to contact his office or the PAO in the field to discuss their concerns and ideas.

The SRSG has continued to meet with key leaders in the past week. On 11 June he met with the Communist Party Secretary-General, Hamid Majid Musa. The two agreed on the importance of ensuring a substantial role for women in the new Iraq. Mr. Vieira de Mello also met with Ibrahim Jaafari, leader of the Da'wa party, and discussed issues related to the current transition. In his first week, Mr Vieira de Mello met with Abdel-Aziz al-Hakim, senior member of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), Hamid Al-Bayati, a member of SCIRI's Central Committee, and Adnan Pachachi, a former Foreign Minister.

Mr. Vieira de Mello is now undertaking a tour of the country. On 14 June, he visited Basrah, and met with UN personnel and Iraqi political figures and representatives of civil society. He stressed the UN determination to contribute towards the establishment of democratic institutions in Iraq. He pledged that the UN would continue providing humanitarian assistance.

The WFP Deputy Executive Director (DED), Mr. Jean-Jacques Graisse, visited Iraq from 8 to 12 June. In Baghdad, the DED met with senior Ministry of Trade (MoT) officials and representatives from (CPA) to discuss the local procurement of wheat. The DED visited the governorates of Erbil and Ninewa, where he met with officials from CPA, Local Authorities, and WFP staff. The discussions focussed on the harvest and procurement of locally produced wheat, the ongoing PDS cycle, and WFP's phasing-out as required by UN Security Council Resolution 1483 (2003). The visit to Mosul was also marked by the formal inauguration of the Mosul Centre Area Coordination Office.

Mr. Dennis McNamara, Special Envoy of the High Commissioner for Refugees visited Iraq between 2 and 12 June. He met with the SRSG, Ambassador Bremer of the CPA, UN agencies, IOM, and the ICRC. He visited Erbil and Sulaymaniyah where he met the local authorities and UN agencies. He also visited refugees and IDPs.

The UN Area Coordinator's (AC) Office in the Centre held an IDPs, Refugees, and Returnee Working Sub-Group meeting on 10 June. The participants discussed a myriad of issues pertaining to IDPs, such as registration, plans for resettlement, establishment of IDP location tracking system, and the CPA's information campaign to the potential returnees.

The first meeting of the Tripartite Coordinating Committee (TCC) took place in Mosul on 12 June attended by the local authorities, CPA representatives, and UN agencies. The participants agreed on the creation of 8 sectoral working groups. The purpose of the sectoral groups is to strengthen institution capacity building by putting the local authorities at the forefront of the humanitarian assistance and reconstruction activities.

The UN Bimonthly Meeting with Kurdish authorities, the CPA, USAID, and the NGOs took place in Erbil on 12 June. The participants discussed the transfer of the OFFP resources to the CPA.

2. ASSESSMENTS

IDPs

From 1 to 8 June 2003, the Senior IDP Advisor and a Senior Human Rights Advisor attached to the Office of the Humanitarian Coordinator visited Mosul, Kirkuk, Erbil, Sulaymaniyah, in the North, and Basrah, in southern Iraq. The purpose of the visit was to assess the overall situation of the IDPs and make recommendations on how to address their protection and assistance needs, with a clear focus on fostering durable solutions for them.

In each location visited, the mission met with the UN staff, NGOs, the CPA and the local authorities, attended co-ordination meetings and visited IDP camps and shelters. In Sulaymaniyah the mission also held a training session for UN and NGO staff on IDP protection issues.

During the mission, the team's discussions focused upon: developing appropriate coordination mechanisms; the impact of spontaneous returns, particularly of Kurds to Kirkuk and Mosul; the difficulties in applying a uniform definition to all IDPs in Iraq; and the complexities associated with registering IDPs. A key element in preparation of future returns is related to the establishment of property claims and compensation mechanisms. Assessment of needs in order to determine the appropriate assistance strategies which did not encourage further spontaneous flows was identified as a priority.

DIYALA

A UN Inter-agency assessment to Ba'qubah, Diyala took place on 13 to 16 June, co-ordinated by the UN Area Coordination Office, Baghdad. Participants included the Office of the SRSG, IOM, UNICEF, UNHCR and WFP. This was the first UN mission to the area since the conflict. The population of Diyala Governorate includes 1.2 million people, approximately 450,000 of which reside in Ba'qubah. Most are engaged in agricultural production. Ba'qubah is a hub for fruit and vegetables, bound for Baghdad.

US Military engineers are maintaining water and sanitation facilities, however there is no sewage treatment in place and there is a shortage of chlorine and aluminium sulphate for water purification. Salaries have been paid to public sector workers; however there are no funds for operations. Trash collection resumed in Ba'qubah town, last week. Nine hundred new policemen have been recruited, receiving a three-day initial training. The 2-week weapons amnesty period has been extended by a week with very few weapons handed in.

The Authority has established a Community Advisory Committee composed of 10/12 influential leaders which meets weekly, pending elections (Governor, Vice-Governors and Directors of Administration) slated to take place in two or three weeks. Coalition Civil Affairs Teams are implementing basic administration, rehabilitation of structures and public works.

According to Danish Refugee Council (DRC), 3,000 IDP families have been registered in Diyala Governorate. 55% of the families are living in informal camps (set up by the IDPs), 10% with host families, while 35% of the families are in formal camps (set up by local agencies). A significant number are thought to be economically marginalised rather than people displaced by harassment or conflict. The mission visited a number of such sites including a former military camp where impoverished IDPs were living in war damaged barracks without basic services, and a former Police Station, in the centre of town, which has rationed but daily water and electricity service. Half of the IDPs come from Khanaqin, north Diyala.

3. CPA

CPA has advised that payment of salaries for May/June to civil servants will begin on 16 June in Baghdad, and will be paid in American dollars.

The CPA issued three public notices on trade, law and order, and labour law. The "Trade Liberalisation Policy" declares a "suspension of tariffs and other trade restriction in Iraq" through the end of 2003. The notice on "Public Incitement to Violence and Disorder" advises that persons making a prohibited announcement or distributing material inciting violence, civil disorder, and advocating alteration of the Iraqi border or the return of Ba'ath Party will be detained. The notice on "Organisation in the Workplace" extends the existing labour law, which, among others, does not authorise employees to elect Directors of government enterprises.

On 14 June CPA organised a meeting on gender issues in Baghdad. Discussion focused on participation of women in the political life. The CPA intends to organise a national conference on 9 July touching upon the role of women in reform of the constitution and legislation, in education, health care, social affairs, and economy and employment sectors.

4. SECURITY

There is an increased incidence of well-organised attacks against the coalition forces, as well as Iraqi police stations. Intimidation is reported against newly appointed local authorities working closely with the coalition.

In Baghdad, a great number of weapons and ammunition is seized every day. An improvement of security and a decrease of night shooting are reported. The crime rate, however, is still high. There are reports that leaflets, calling Iraqis to armed resistance against the coalition and offering rewards for killing coalition members, are being distributed. Safety on the Baghdad-Amman and Baghdad-Mosul Highway remains of concern with frequent reports of armed attacks on coalition forces and NGO vehicles.

In Mosul, the security situation remains difficult. On 12 June, a large meeting of former Iraqi military personnel in Mosul city turned into a demonstration against the local administration and the coalition forces. The soldiers marched to the City Council, broke through the gates and stoned the building. The local police station was set on fire. The coalition forces clashed with the demonstrators resulting in two civilian deaths and several injuries, and one coalition member injury. On 13 June, in downtown Mosul City, the tensions were high again as armed civilians moved through the streets, looting shops and attempting to rob two banks. The situation improved on 14 June with the increased presence of the coalition troops which are now monitoring the area.

In Basrah, an estimated 3,500 demonstrators marched on 15 June to express their rejection of the coalition forces and demand an election of an Iraqi governor. The demonstrators held a two-hour long demonstration in front of the coalition headquarters and handed the CPA a list of demands. The demonstration was generally peaceful, with two incidents resulting in two civilian injuries.

Another demonstration took place the same day in Basrah. About 40 baccalaureate students demonstrated in front of the Basrah House demanding that the final exams take place. The students were invited to deliver their message in front of the UN Humanitarian Open Forum after which they dispersed peacefully.

5. REFUGEES

Outside of Iraq

In Iran, many Iraqi refugees are eagerly monitoring developments in their home country. It is estimated that up to 1.3 million Iraqis fled their homeland in 1991. At 200,000, Iran has by far the largest caseload of registered Iraqi refugees in the world. Preparations are well underway by the UN refugee agency to facilitate the return of many Iraqis wanting to go home. Money, staff and equipment that had been set aside in anticipation of a refugee exodus from Iraq during the recent war are now being redirected towards repatriation. The UNHCR office in Iran is working in close co-operation with the Iranian authorities and the UNHCR teams in Iraq to ensure that everything is ready when the repatriation programme does begin. Despite these efforts, many refugees may have to wait a bit longer. Even though things are slowly improving, the situation in Iraq remains precarious and the return of hundreds of thousands of refugees could overwhelm the country. UNHCR is also concerned about the well-being of returnees in such an unstable environment.

Outside the camps, some refugees are anxious about what awaits them in Iraq. Almost three-quarters of Khuzestan's Iraqis are not staying in camps, but live among the local population, especially in and around the provincial capital, Ahwaz. Up to a third of all refugee households in the area are headed by women, and these women and their families represent one of the most vulnerable refugee groups. Frequently, these women are reluctant to leave Iran without clear assurances that they will be able to reintegrate back in Iraq.

Inside Iraq

During the last two weeks, UNHCR Baghdad has visited the Al Tash refugee camp regularly. The camp currently hosts some 11,000 Iranian Kurd refugees. The situation in Al Tash is slowly returning to normal, although the security situation in the governorate of Anbar is still fragile. Several short-term emergency interventions to enhance the provision of food, water, and health assistance have been taken.

Meanwhile, UNHCR is actively searching for solutions to the situation of the refugees in the camp, and those stranded at the border with Jordan. The new camp refugee committee met with UNHCR and requested the relocation of the refugees in the camp to the northern Iraq. Initial discussions with relevant authorities indicate that they are positive to the request, and that suitable villages for relocation may be found. UNHCR continues however to pursue other solutions, primarily the option of voluntary repatriation of groups from Al Tash, where several thousands refugees last year applied for repatriation to Iran.

UNHCR has visited the refugee settlements in Grey Gewry, Malaparwan, and Daratoo refugee settlements, in Dahuk governorate. In all settlements, the lack of medicine was cited as a main problem.

UNHCR also visited Qaladiza, 161 km northeast of Sulaymaniyah, to assess the situation of IDPs and Kurd returnees from Iran. The Kurd refugees from Qaladiza left for Iran in 1988 for political reasons. The majority is hesitant to return due to lack of shelter, assistance, and job opportunities. Many of the potential returnees own land or destroyed houses and building materials would be necessary to ease their reintegration. The mayor of Qaladiza stated that 15 families returned last year and registered officially with the authorities. The returnees are residing in a scattered area inside Qaladiza; some of those families had houses either inside Qaladiza or in the villages and some of them now live in rented houses.

6. OIL FOR FOOD PROGRAMME (OFFP) UPDATE

An Office of the Iraq Programme (OIP) mission has now departed Iraq, after intensive discussions with the CPA, Iraqi technocrats and UN agencies on changes in the contracts processing following the adoption of SCR1483 (2003). Procedures for the processing of new contracts for supply of essential medical supplies, put in place after the adoption of SCR 1472, will remain unchanged. UN agencies, in consultation with the CPA, will decide on the order of priority of Oil for Food Programme (OFFP) contracts in different sectors.

In the north, efforts are intensifying to ensure all requirements for handover of OFFP are in place by 21 November 2003. UNOHCI and the agencies have acknowledged the support and cooperation the UN has received from the local authorities and the CPA in the termination exercise. The UN has raised with the CPA the need to strengthen technical capacity to work with it on the transfer in the months ahead.

To facilitate a smooth phase out of OFFP projects and transfer of services, as well as assets in the north procured with the OFFP funds, UNOHCI-North has decentralised the coordination process. UNOHCI Coordination Offices in Dahuk, Erbil and Sulaymaniyah have been empowered to carry out tasks within their mandates, without regular consultations or instructions from the Deputy Humanitarian Coordinator (Policy) and Area Coordinator's Offices.

7. SECTORAL HIGHLIGHTS

FOOD

As at 15 June, 829,554 MT of food has now been dispatched into Iraq. The first distributions through the Public Distribution System (PDS) in Iraq are well under way. During the second week of distributions, WFP offices all over the country reported that the Ministry of Trade (MoT) has further enhanced the distribution chain, covering all 18 governorates and the supply of wheat flour and other commodities pertaining to the June PDS ration is proceeding without hindrance.

So far, 60% of Baghdad food agents have collected their food ration for the June PDS allocation. This indicates that over 3 million Iraqis in Baghdad have received or are receiving their food baskets. PDS ration for hospitals began in Baghdad on 12 June in coordination with MoT. Food supply arrangements and mechanisms will be replicated for social institutions such as orphanages, elderly houses, centres for disabled.

WFP reported that in the Centre and North overall distribution coverage for wheat flour was between 39% and 75%. In Tameem governorate, some 39% of the June PDS wheat flour requirement (3,014 MT) has been distributed to around 328,314 beneficiaries. In Sulaymaniyah, some 75% (10,620 MT) of wheat flour requirement has been distributed to about 1,540,829 beneficiaries. In Erbil, around 8,997 MT of wheat flour and 3,949 MT of mixed commodities (rice, sugar, tea, pulses, and vegetable oil) have been distributed to approximately 902,113 beneficiaries.

In the south distributions are also progressing well. In Babel, 3,755 MT of commodities has been distributed through 796 food agents to cover 502,082 beneficiaries. In Qadissiya, 3,888 MT of commodities were released through 509 food agents to 398,214 beneficiaries, and in Basrah, some 19,295 MT were distributed to 1,249,589 beneficiaries. This represents 63 per cent of the June PDS requirement in Basrah. In Missan, 5,744 MT was distributed to 468, 961 beneficiaries, representing 42 per cent of the requirement, and in Muthanna some 4,820 MT was distributed to 272, 866 beneficiaries. This represents 52% of the June PDS requirement in Muthanna. Collated country figures will be revealed in the coming days.

WFP in cooperation with MoT is also addressing the issue of population without ration cards. It seems that this part of the population comprises mainly children of uncertified marriages, returnees, new born babies, or people who have not done military service. Through public announcements the population has been asked to come to Ration Registration Centres in order to apply for new cards. In Missan governorate, the registration of Marshland Arabs who did not receive food rations under the previous Iraqi regime began on 9 June.

During the past week, WFP commenced the hand-over of commodity stocks to MoT. The hand-over is complete in Kerbala, Hilla and Najaf and ongoing in Mosul, Kirkuk and Baghdad.

HEALTH

According to UNICEF, about one third of children under five, recently admitted to health facilities, are suffering from malnutrition, allegedly due diarrhoea resulting from poor water quality.

The UNFPA shipment of emergency reproductive health supplies arrived in Baghdad on 9 June. It included much needed emergency obstetric care materials, clean delivery equipment, contraceptives, syringes, essential drugs and other medical products. Gynaecological beds, wheelchairs, sanitary pads, and baby diapers and clothing will be included in another convoy which will be dispatched shortly by the UNFPA office in Iran.

UNFPA is currently conducting an emergency assessment of 18 hospitals and 30 primary health care centres providing reproductive health and family planning services around Baghdad. The assessment is undertaken in collaboration with a number of international health partners operating in Iraq, including Enfants du Monde, Premiere Urgence and Architects for People in Need. The current shipment-and subsequent UNFPA medical supplies delivered into Baghdad-will be distributed to health centres based on the results of the new assessment, which is scheduled to be completed end of June.

This is the second shipment of reproductive health equipment and supplies provided by UNFPA to Iraqi hospitals since the end of the armed conflict in April. The first was delivered almost a month ago to the northern city of Mosul.

WATER AND SANITATION

The CPA reports that Baghdad now has adequate water supply. On 14 June, the city received 1,615,000,000 litres of water.

In an effort to improve the sanitary situation in Baghdad area, UNICEF has been sending out teams of workers across the city to repair blocked sewage lines and sewage pumping stations, and to clean up the piles of refuse building up in many areas of the capital.

The areas of Karada, Al-Rasheed, Al-Obaidi, and Al-Huriya had been affected by severe flooding of raw sewage flowing through streets, schools and homes due to blocked sewage drains. In a recent operation, these sewage drains have been unblocked benefiting a total of 1.5 million people. Similar operations will soon take place in other parts of Baghdad. Drain blockages are only part of the problem, however. The Sewage Pumping Stations that draw the sewage out of neighbourhoods are also in desperate need of repair. Out of 256 Sewage Pumping Stations in Baghdad, the majority is in need of repair. UNICEF is currently repairing 28 of these pumping stations, and will expand their operation in the coming weeks.

UNDP and UN-Habitat are to rehabilitate Al-Karkh and Al-Rustamiya sewage treatment plants and funding proposals have been submitted to donors. Existing funds in the amount of 400,000 dollars, which were allocated to the project prior to the conflict, will be used for the immediate emergency repair of the plants.

In Baghdad, the Iraq Reconstruction and Employment Programme (IREP) project has completed its assessments for the rehabilitation of six sewage pumping stations and contracts have been awarded to contractors on 15 June. Ten additional assessments that were sent to the Mayoralty of Baghdad the previous week have been approved and invitations for bidding will be issued on 17 June. UNDP continues to provide fuel to the water and sewage pumping stations in Baghdad. Quantities provided during the last week reached 252,000 litres and supplied 33 out of 260 pumping stations in Baghdad using 28 tanker trucks.

UN agencies have been collecting garbage in municipalities across Baghdad and in Basrah. While garbage collection is currently ongoing in these cities, there is a need to effectively deal with this problem in other municipalities across Iraq. UNICEF will be meeting with the Director General of the Directorate of Municipalities today to finalise plans to undertake garbage collection in all major urban areas. This endeavour will go on for a one month period at a minimum cost of 1.5 million dollars.

EDUCATION

UNESCO, UNICEF, CPA, and the Ministry of Education are coordinating to ensure that end-year exams take place for 6 million Iraqi students, countrywide. The primary school exams will start on 21 June. One issue of concern is that some examination centres are occupied by coalition forces.

In Basrah, the UN hosted a working session on 11 and 12 June attended by CPA, MoE, UN agencies, and representatives of the police. The purpose of the workshop was to organise exams in Basrah, Missan, Thi-Qar and, Muthanna governorates. It was agreed that the Primary School and Intermediate School exams will take place between 1 and 28 July.

As well, security issues were discussed by the working group. The loss or theft of the examination materials during transport or storage was of concern under the previous regime. Such an occurrence would seriously compromise the examination process. Furthermore, the security of students, especially females, was discussed.

UNESCO and UNICEF are coordinating efforts with the CPA and the Iraqi Ministry of Education (MoE) to revise textbooks. UNESCO has received a grant to reprint mathematics and science books and will form a panel involving Iraqi professionals to revise textbooks.

ECONOMY

In the last week's update it was reported that the Authority has decided to allow the US dollar and Iraqi Dinar (ID) to be legal tender in the three northern governorates which was expected to reduce susceptibility of Old Iraqi Dinar (OID) to local manipulation and, consequently, its appreciation. It appears, however, that the decision had little impact as the OID continues to fluctuate. During the past week, the exchange rate reached 5.25 OID for one US dollar on 10 June, and then dropped to 4.75 OID on 11 June. On 17 June, OID climbed to 7.8 for one dollar in the morning, and dropped to 6.6 in the afternoon. The empirical evidence seems to indicate that the currency is still being manipulated.

Recognising the urgency of the situation, the UN has emphasised in meetings with the CPA, the importance of the currency fluctuation issue as a major problem affecting the local economy and the implementation of the OFFP activities.

Meanwhile, in Baghdad, the ID exchange rate is at 1,480 for one US dollar in foreign exchange shops, and 1500 in markets.

AGRICULTURE

FAO has resumed activities in controlling major plant pests and diseases. In the past week, FAO has distributed 3,072 kg of pesticides and equipment to 1,561 farmers in 414 villages in the three northern governorates. Along with the mechanical control that has been utilised in 8 villages in the region, these activities should assist farmers in combating grasshoppers which infest vegetable and field crops, and Stem borers and scale insects which infest orchard trees. These activities are proceeding without any major constraints, but there remains the need for more pesticides.

Progressive control of trans-boundary and endemic animal diseases is underway; through the vaccination campaign in Dahuk, Erbil and Sulaymaniyah governorates. A total of 257,861 sheep, 174,794 goats and 30,414 cattle have been immunized against Foot and Mouth disease (FMD) and Peste des Petits Ruminants (PPR) benefiting 13,546 farmers in 937 villages. Out of the total population of sheep and goats 5.15% and 6% of cattle were vaccinated during the week. The FMD campaign had originally been planned for April and May. Vaccination against PPR started in June, but the vaccination campaign against Brucellosis is stalled due to lack of vaccine supply. No disease outbreaks have been reported.

Distribution of drugs and vaccines to poultry farms and farmers continues. So far, 445 farmers in 234 villages received drugs for 2,257,802 chicks; and vaccines were distributed to 416 farmers in 174 villages for 1,989,492. Backyard poultry vaccination campaigns against Newcastle disease started in both Dahuk and Erbil governorates; 93,929 poultry were vaccinated benefiting 2,105 farmers in 119 villages in the region.

FAO has reactivated the distribution of spare parts and tyres which were not available in the local market, thus enabling operation of harvesters in the region. Approximately 200 ha, mainly of wheat and barley, were harvested only in the last week. In addition to this, 16 stone pickers, 19 thresher and 17 seed cleaner machines resumed operation and will be used by farmers for the cultivation of sunflower, soybean and maize.

FAO, together with Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) staff, has finalised pest surveys of date palm plantations in the central and southern Governorates to verify if insect pest were causing significant damages to the crops. Reports indicate that the fruit development is already at an advanced stage, and that levels of infestation are well below economic thresholds and FAO has advised not conduct aerial spraying.

FAO will oversee the "last resort" purchase of barley from Iraqi farmers during by the MoT the 2003 harvest season (June to September 2003). FAO would be responsible for transferring funds to the Authority/Ministry of Trade and authenticating that the quantity and quality of the commodity has indeed been purchased, in line with agreed procedures.

MINE ACTION

Demining

The Mine Action Coordination Team in Iraq continues with mine clearance, explosive ordnance disposal, permanent marking of minefields, surveys, mine risk education and victim support. Operations are being conducted by the Mine Action Program in the three northern governorates and by the Basrah Area Mine Action Coordination Team in southern Iraq. The Baghdad Mine Action Coordination Team office continues to plan for future operations and to support the CPA in establishing Iraqi Mine Action agencies.

In the three northern governorates, the Mine Action Programme (MAP), has demined an area of 15,874 m2 in Dahuk and returned the land to the local population. An area of 1,038 m2 was also demarcated with permanent marking signs, to further ensure the safety of the village population. A locally produced machine for ground preparation activities has been deployed. In Sulaymaniyah, four local NGO manual clearance teams and an EOD team commenced operations.

In the southern governorates, the Basrah Area Mine Action Coordination Team continues with mine clearance operations. The mine threat in the area of operations is low, as compared to that of unexploded ordnance (UXOs) and explosive remnants of war. Although the population in these areas received emergency mine risk education, they continue to collect c