Guam Army Ready–Kurds on the Way
Harmon Initiates Ministry on Behalf of Fleeing Iraqi Refugees
GUAM, September 19–The first group of Kurdish refugees fleeing the wrath of Saddam Hussein arrived yesterday at Andersen Air Force Base.
About 2,500 Kurds who worked for U.S. aid groups in northern Iraq are being evacuated to Guam and will spend 30-90 days at Andersen South housing area before their transition to the mainland United States.
In what the military is calling “Operation Pacific Haven,” The Salvation Army has been asked to assist in providing humanitarian aid to the Kurdish refugees.
“Immediately upon becoming aware of the situation, Captain David Harmon, Guam commanding officer, offered his support to the U.S. Air Force,” says Lt. Colonel Chris Buchanan, Hawaiian and Pacific Islands divisional commander. “Following Harmon’s offer, the Air Force created a Humanitarian Assistance Center and asked the Captain and his staff to monitor the 24-hour telephones.” He is attending briefings twice a day, Buchanan notes.
The Salvation Army will coordinate the work of all non-governmental agencies involved in the relief effort.
In addition, The Salvation Army is coordinating the civilian response, aiding the incoming refugees and addressing specific needs the military is not equipped to provide. Harmon and his wife, Captain Linda Harmon, along with their staff, soldiers and volunteers, are greeting the Kurds as they arrive with toys for the children. They are also providing formula for infants and toddlers, diapers, baby wipes, bottles and supplies.
The Salvation Army is investigating the possibility of sending a medical team from the Hawaiian Islands to support health and medical concerns.
Salvation Army Envoy Tim DeCastro will leave Honolulu today to assist the Harmons and Steve Walker, director of disaster services for the Guam Corps. DeCastro manages the Army’s Silvercrest, a low-income senior housing project in Wahiawa. He is a retired Air Force Chief Master Sergeant and a 45-year Salvationist.
After the Vietnam War, the U.S. government used Guam to temporarily house more than 100,000 Vietnamese refugees in “Operation New Life.”
The Salvation Army asks the public’s help in light of the anticipated ongoing need of consumable items for the refugees during their stay on Guam. Monetary donations earmarked “Kurdish Relief” are greatly appreciated, and may be sent to any local Salvation Army unit.