Allied troops entered this provincial capital Monday to assess relief needs, a day after a contingent of U.N. guards arrived as part of foreign efforts to encourage the return of Kurdish refugees.
The non-combat allied troops were to assess how best to restore electricity, telephones and other services, while the 10 unarmed United Nations guards were to begin patrols in the area.Dohuk was home to between 250,000 and 350,000 people before the failed Kurdish rebellion that broke out in the wake of the Persian Gulf war. Plundered by government forces, the city is now largely deserted.
Most of the 440,000 refugees who fled Iraq to the Turkish border have returned to their homes, but thousands of Dohuk residents remain fearful of returning because of the city's exclusion from the "security zone" protected by allied forces.
The uniformed allied troops arrived Monday in a convoy of about 20 vehicles, said Lt. Cmdr. John Hopkins, a spokesman at the air base in Incirlik, Turkey, where Kurdish relief efforts are coordinated.
The team includes technicians who specialize in humanitarian relief, disaster assistance, engineering, logistics, medical aid, security and communications, he said. They were accompanied by Iraqi liaison officers.
Allied and Iraqi commanders decided to make the visit jointly as part of efforts to create a feeling of security for the Kurds, he said.
The team's findings were to be discussed at a meeting at the Dohuk governor's house late Monday. A separate U.N. team also began surveying the city Sunday to determine relief needs.