The United Nations raised its blue-and-white flag Tuesday in this refugee settlement, the first step in assuming control of camps for some of the thousands of Kurds who fled Saddam Hussein's troops.
"This is a historic date," said Steffan De Mistura, the special U.N. envoy for the refugees.Many refugees began moving toward the tent camp in northern Iraq Tuesday after Kurdish guerrillas dismantled their checkpoints under presssure from allied forces. Other Kurds went directly to their homes.
More than 800 Kurdish men have moved to the tent city set up by allied forces in Zakho and are helping to complete it, officials said. On Monday night, 114 more people arrived from the mountains where they took refuge after Saddam's army crushed a Kurdish rebellion.
Three hundred other people returned to Zakho late Monday or early Tuesday and went to their former homes, said U.S. Army Major Gen. Jay Garner, commander of the multinational force in northern Iraq. Those in the tent city are either from areas south of the allied "security zone" or need shelter because their homes were damaged in earlier fighting.
De Mistura said the United Nations would take over the tent city after work on the camp is finished, Western troops leave and funds are provided for the U.N. team.
He said the U.N. team wanted to "keep a very clear separation from anything military."
The United Nations set up its humanitarian center across the street from the allied-built camp. U.N. officials said they would distribute food to residents of Zakho.
Garner refused to elaborate on how long the job would take, saying, "Our timetable is to save lives."