CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Iraqi Kurds Flee to Northern Mountains
Aired March 24, 2003 - 00:36 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
AARON BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: It's a bit difficult not to get caught up in all of the images we have been seeing every day of the war. There're live satellite images from here and live satellite images from the battlefields and they do capture our imagination. To some degree, they capture our attention.
But there are also other stories that are perhaps not so -- not so dramatic, if you will. They are the people far from the battlefields who are struggling for food, who are trying to find safety and there are places where there is neither of those two things.
CNN's Jane Arraf, of course, tonight from Northern Iraq.
JANE ARRAF, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): How to keep a family safe in wartime? For these Iraqi Kurds, the answer is to move and keep moving. Fatima (ph) lost her leg to frostbite when she tried to cross the mountains barefoot to Turkey along with half a million other Kurds in the 1991 Gulf War. Last week, she and her entire village fled again.
"I'm afraid of Saddam," she says.
Kurds, particularly, have reason to be afraid. Thousands died in the 1980s when the Iraqi government destroyed Kurdish towns and used chemical gas against the Kurds. In 1991, half a million Kurds fled in terror towards the Turkish border. Hundreds froze to death on the way.
(on camera): Iraqi Kurds have come a long way since the Gulf War, they have their own government, their own militia. As one Kurdish leader says, we are no longer a people who can be gassed and killed, we can defend ourselves; but people are still afraid.
(voice-over): These families are among more than 400,000 in this part of Iraqi Kurdistan who have abandoned their homes for the supposedly safer countryside.
"All the world knows this is the third time this has happened to us," says Nesrine Mamood (ph). "Our children in this cold and rain."
In this part of Northern Iraq alone, up to 10,000 Kurds have settled like this in homemade tents by the side of the highway. It's early spring, but the temperature is freezing and the ground is muddy. Water comes from a stream down the road. There's been some movement back to the cities as some Iraqi forces have moved back from front lines. But these people's homes are just across the front lines. From their village of Aluka (ph) in Kurdish-controlled territory, Majeed Akma Majeed (ph) saw on Sunday repeated bombing of the Iraqi military outpost just two miles, three kilometers away.
Kurdish authorities are trying to resettle people like these in schools, mosques and proper refugee camps, but international aid agencies are holding back supplies until refugees start flooding in from the rest of Iraq.
SAKVAN FARHAN, KURDISH REG. EMERGENCY COORD.: We have shortages in tents, a lot of non-food item. We have a lot of shortages. The supplies we have here in Northern Iraq, it's very limited. We have very limited resources.
ARRAF: No matter how limited the resources and despite the cold and freezing rain, these families are choosing their relative safety of the mountains.
Jane Arraf, CNN, near Rashanka Village in Northern Iraq.
BROWN: The view from there tonight.
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