Dahuk district comprises three sub-districts Dahuk, Zawita and Mangesh, and 120 villages. All the districts of the conservative, tribal regions around Dahuk are under KDP control. The main city is Dahuk governorate. Most of its land is mountainous; it is famous for a rainy and snowy winter and hot summer. There is a dam to the north of the city centre, it was used for irrigation, but later on it became a source of potable water.
The Arabization of towns in northern Iraq involved the forced removal of non-Arabs - Turkmens and Kurds - to move to the three (predominantly Kurdish) northern muhafazahs (provinces) of Arbil (Irbil), Dahuk (Dohuk), and As Sulaymaniyah (Suleimaniyah), which remained outside Baghdad's control, or to the south, often to the city of Ar Ramadi (al-Ramadi).
Some villages were destroyed or evacuated since 1988 due to insecurity and other problems like poverty and loss of essential resource, for these reasons people migrated from their villages to sub-district centres, living in public buildings or sharing houses with other families. In general, roads are in good condition except some far located villages that are hard to access, especially in winter. The economic situation in the district center is good, but poverty prevails in sub-districts and villages and people depend on low agricultural income.
On 5 April 1991, President Bush announced the beginning of a relief operation in northern Iraq. Operation Provide Comfort joint and combined post-conflict activity with extensive SOF involvement, focused on providing humanitarian assistance and protection to the displaced Kurdish population of Iraq, following an unsuccessful attempt by Kurdish rebels to overthrow the Iraqi government. The US responded immediately. By 7 April, US aircraft from Europe dropped relief supplies over the Iraq borders. More than 6,000 soldiers from units which just had participated in Operation Desert Storm eventually redeployed to Turkey and Northern Iraq in support of Operation Provide Comfort. The initial objective of the operation was to reduce the death rate among the 400,00 Kurdish refugees forced to survive in the mountains. Subsequent objectives included establishing a security zone in northern Iraq so that refugees would feel safe to return setting up refugee camps within the secure zone, and begin repatriating Kurds to the secure zone. There were a number of problems encountered during the operation. The Iraq governments hostility towards the Kurds, combined with the continued presence, threats and harassment of Iraqi military, police, and secret police, made many Kurds reluctant to return to their homes. Additionally, the initial security zone did not include the city of Dahuk, which was the origin of most of the refugees.
By 10 May 1991, the coalition security zone, from east to west, was 160 kilometers in length and was secured by the physical presence of allied forces. This was an important point for the Kurds who maintained that they would only return to those areas that were physically occupied by coalition forces. As dramatic as it was, the expansion of the zone to the east did not have the desired effect of launching a human exodus from the camps back into Iraq. By now, however, the reason was becoming clear. The majority of refugees in Turkey came from the city of Dahuk, the provincial capital located 40 kilometers south of the allies security zone. Kurds were willing to use resettlement camps as temporary way stations en route to their former homes, but they were unwilling to accept these camps as a permanent solution. Thus, moving towards this city became the key to resolving the refugee problem in southern Turkey where approximately 350,000 refugees still remained.
In early May 1991, overflights of Dahuk revealed that the city was abandoned except for elements of the Iraqi Army. During normal times, Dahuk is a bustling city of 350,000, modern by contrast to most other villages or cities in the security zone. Two major roads intersect just west of the city, one going to Zakhu, the other towards Al Amadiyah. Built for the efficient movement of Iraq's army, these roadways were also the economic lifeline of the region.
During 2003's military action, most of Dahuk's 200,000 residents fled to rural areas. About 40 percent of the populations of the other main cities of Erbil and Sulemaniyah also fled. the occupation of Baghdad by coalition forces, followed shortly by Kirkuk and Mosul, was the signal to return home.
People started to come back to their villages, due to improvement of the security situation. Humanitarian agencies under the SCR 986 and NGOs activities had positive effects in the area. According to the Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART), as of May 19, 2003 the greatest concern facing the Dahuk governorate was a shortage of fuel. The main source of fuel for Dahuk is Mosul, as the governorate does not receive any fuel from Turkey. Gasoline tankers are available to go to Mosul to deliver gasoline to Dahuk. Liquid Propane Gas (LPG) is available from street side vendors in Dahuk. The price for LPG has decreased from 90 Swiss Dinar to 60 Swiss Dinar in the past week. There are two government and four private gas stations in Dahuk. These stations all provide gasoline to government vehicles at no direct cost aside from a 1 dirham service fee. They are limited to a 20-liter maximum per fueling and must be on an approved list. Prior to the conflict, the limit was 46 liters for government vehicles. For private cars, the cost is 10 dirhams per liter and the stations will only sell to cars with Dahuk plates. The Dahuk Oil Company delivers gasoline to these stations from Mosul in a 10,000 liter tanker.
Saddam Hussein's summer palace is near Dahuk.
By June 2003 US army officers had started training Arabs and Kurds for the new Iraqi army at a camp on the edge of Dahuk.
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