Jan Ravnholt | United Nations Guard Contingent in Iraq

In the years 1997 - 1998 I spent a total of 12 months in northern Iraq - Kurdistan - working as UN guard in UNGCI (United Nations Guard Contingent in Iraq). In this context, I was granted leave from the police and signed a contract with the Danish Ministry of Defence.
The mission was established in 1991 based on UN resolutions 706/1991 and 712/1991 and composed of military and police personnel from many different countries including Denmark, Czechoslovakia, Greece, Bangladesh, Poland, Nepal and Fiji - a total of approx. 100 men and women.

 

UNGCI was entrusted with the protection of UN and non-governmental personnel involved in the humanitarian program, property, equipment and supplies. Further UNGCI was responsible for radio communication, medical care and the possible evacuation of sick/injured personnel.

All entry and exit of Iraq took place from Cyprus via Habbania Airport approx. 100 km west of Baghdad. After entry check in the bombed airport, we were transported by bus to Baghdad. From Baghdad we drove the 500 km or so to Erbil city in the north.

UNGCI was terminated in 2003.

Shown here are a few pictures from my collection - access to more photos requires a password. If you believe to have legitimate access to the protected section, please contact me and ask for a password.

Iraq - Kurdistan 1997 - 1998
During patrol we fill up our vehicles  at a local gas station - note the fuel tank on the roof of the building
Landscape with trees - the latter was found only in very limited numbers, which was a major problem for the poor civilians, since it was the main heating source during the winter
A picture of me in front of a monument raised in memory of the victims of Saddam Hussein's toxic gas attack on the Kurdish village of Halabja in 1988. Approximately 5000 people lost their lives in the attack
3 days before the attack an alliance consisting of local Kurdish pershmerkere (partisans) and Iranian forces had expelled Iraqi forces. As a revenge toxic gas was dropped on the town. Still in 1997 there were many traces of war
"Ali Baba" - a local merchant/smuggler who regularly visited our house to sell old Russian military equipment, such as bayonets and night vision equipment
 
Typical local dress - picture taken in connection with escort of staff from the UN organization WFP "World Food Programme"
A Greek colleague hit and injured a sheep guarded by shepherd -  a boy 13 - 14 years of age. The boy was given a financial compensation for the damage. Our interpreter was responsible for the negotiation.
My greek colleague photographed with the boys toy - a homemade skateboard
At the entrance to Babylon - here I'm photographed together with my English-speaking guide
Restored buildings
A lion statue
From Babylon there was a view to one of Saddam Husseins many palaces
In Al-Rasheed Hotel in Baghdad a tile mosaic depicting U.S. President George H.W. Bush was installed on the floor of the lobby after the Persian Gulf War. This was intended to force any visitors to walk over his face to enter the hotel. Beneath the picture is written "Bush is criminal"
The famous or rather infamous parade ground in Baghdad. To celebrate "victory" in the war against Iran Saddam Hussein raised this monument. The hands holding the swords are supposedly copies of Saddam's hands. Around the base of the arms, are scattered 5000 Iranian military helmets that were picked up on the battlefield
Monument to "The Unknown Soldier"
Babylon Hotel - my favorite place to stay when I was in Baghdad.
The hotel had an excellent Chinese restaurant
Kurdistan - mud houses built into the hillside
Kurdistan - primitive huts "cottages" built on the riverbank. A woman - fully clothed - is bathing in river
On horseback - a very common way of transport in kurdistan
Lunch with some of the local staff from UN WFP (UN World Food Programme)
Kurdistan - meeting with the local tribal chiefs to collect information about the security situation in the region