Community Returns to Life as Refugees Return With AM-Gulf-Refugees, Bjt
AMADIYAH, Iraq (AP) _ Bassan Osman on Tuesday cleaned out the trash from her sitting room, borrowed seven mattresses from her sister’s house, arranged them along the walls and began to make bread.
After five weeks in the mountains with other Kurdish refugees, she had come home. And there was much work to be done.
Like other communities in the allied-protected zone of northern Iraq, the hilltop town of Amadiyah is returning to life.
In homes looted and filthied by Iraqi soldiers, Kurds and other returning refugees were unpacking, cleaning and starting over.
Amadiyah is a tourist and farming community near the Turkish border that sits dramatically high above its surroundings, giving it a fairy-tale look.
Perched on a flat butte, it can be reached only by a road that switches back sharply until it reaches the top.
Home to both Kurds and Syrian Christians, Amadiyah emptied out almost overnight at the end of March after the Iraqi troops defeated Kurdish rebels and took control of Dohuk, 25 miles to the south, the area’s main city.
Townspeople, fearing Amadiyah was next, walked or rode to the mountains just to the north. Most wound up living in a camp at Cukurca, about 15 miles away.
Allied forces moved in here six days ago in one of the gradual enlargements of the security zone created to protect Kurds from Saddam Hussein’s soldiers. Snce then, the townspeople have been drifting back.
Twenty-year-old Siddqi Ramazan Hassan made the return journey Tuesday. He left Cukurca at dawn a.m. with four friends. They walked for 11 hours, their journey ending when they trudged past a British Royal Marine checkpoint into town.
″Four mountains. We climb and go down, climb and go down,″ he recounted, pointing out the peak in the distance from which they came.
Hassan, a student in civil engineering at Mosul University until the outbreak of the Persian Gulf War, walked through the town back to his uncle’s house, which sits on the edge of the hilltop and looks out over a valley. The rest of his family hopes to return later this week.
″The Iraqi soldiers made this,″ he said, stepping over a mound of garbage. ″Look what the soldiers did.″
Trash littered the town. Doors of shops and houses were broken open. Paper, clothing and debris spilled out into the narrow stone streets.
Inside Hassan’s uncle’s house, the television and almost anything else of value was taken. The family glassware was smashed. Rice and nut shells littered the floor. A dead cow lay about 30 yards away.
At Mrs. Osman’s house next door, she and two other women - surrounded by a dozen children - sat in their small courtyard around a pan rolling dough flat.
″We are happy to come back and bake bread,″ she told Hassan.
A slightly built older woman with a cataract in one eye, she pointed out a bundle that she wore on her back as she climbed down from Cukurca on Monday. It was difficult to lift.
Debris was piled up outside and two of the rooms were completely bare, their concrete floors still wet from her cleaning. Mrs. Osman proudly pointed out the sitting room, neatly put back in order Tuesday, with clean rugs on the floor and borrowed mattresses and pillows lining the walls.
A shop selling tea was open. But the main bazaar was entirely closed. One shopkeeper busied himself cleaning up, but he said the Iraqis had stolen all his wares.
Near the entrance to town, a gasoline station was dispensing gas provided by the British troops. The troops were also handing out food: flour, rice, oil, sugar, tea and clothing donated from France.
″You see a lot of people coming back from the hills now,″ said Royal Marines Cpl. Adam Smith. ″It’s a nice reunion for them, seeing who has survived.″