Operation Haven

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Safe havens

Once the Marines had moved the refugees each person needed to be recorded to assess the best way to deal with their needs. This task fell to 40 Commando whose companies took on roles in the different refugee camps established by the Joint Forces.

B Company established ‘Rupert Brooke Camp’ on the banks of the Great Zab River. From the camp they began the movement and administration of 130 000 refugees from Cukurca Refugee Camp, across the river and into the valley.

S Company, at Kani Masi Refugee Movement Centre, had begun to receive refugees from Uzumlu Camp as well as Cukurca Camp. The forces were able to develop Kani Masi into a very large camp providing many thousands of people with food, medical aid, shelter and then transport.

Queuing for water at Kani Masi Refugee Movement Centre. (RMM)
Queuing for water at Kani Masi Refugee Movement Centre. (RMM)

Meanwhile 40 Commando’s C Company had found safe routes for the refugees from Yekmal camp to travel to Kani Masi. These routes were still difficult and the refugees, many of whom were either very young or very old and were weak and frail.

Following treatment at Kani Masi, many of these refugees went to Zakho. As word spread that the safe area was expanding some refugees crossed over the ridge and into the next valley. A Company opened and guarded this route after completing improvements to the steep, badly surfaced road.