Chronology: 1991 Gulf War crisis

The 1991 Gulf War is remembered as much for the massive population movements that surrounded it, as for the successful liberation of Kuwait.

Aug 2, 1990: Iraq invades Kuwait.

Aug 1990 - Jan 1991: Nearly 1 million third - country nationals flee Iraq and Kuwait. Jordan, the main transit country, hosts the majority of them before they move onwards to their homelands. More than 850,000 Yemeni leave Saudi Arabia for their homeland.

Jan 17, 1991: United States-led coalition forces start their air campaign in Iraq, but the number of Iraqis fleeing their homeland is quite low compared to the exodus of third-country nationals.

Late Jan 1991: Some 15,000 Iraqi refugees flee to Jordan, 3,500 to Iran and 320 to Syria. Most prefer to stay with relatives or host families, and only a fraction seek shelter in camps.

Feb 24, 1991: The ground war begins. As word spreads of the Iraqi army's defeat, unrest erupts into outright rebellion in Shiite-dominated southern Iraq. A similar rebellion follows in the north, led by Iraqi Kurds who rapidly take over the area, including much of the oil-rich Kirkuk region.

Mid-March 1991: By now, more than 60,000 Iraqi refugees have fled into neighbouring countries due to unrest and fear of retribution at home. More than half are in Iran and over 23,000 are in Jordan.

Many more people are displaced inside Iraq. In southern Iraq, some 90,000 displaced Iraqis enter coalition-controlled areas or seek protection and assistance in Saudi Arabia.

Late March 1991: Inside Iraq, forces loyal to the Baghdad government suppress a rebellion by Iraqi Shiites in the south. More than 30,000 people are estimated to have died in the rebellion and its immediate aftermath. Iran now hosts a total of more than 70,000 Iraqi Shiites.

Baghdad's army counter-attacks the northern Kurdish-controlled regions, capturing Kirkuk within hours. Mass panic erupts across the region, causing an unprecedented exodus into the snowy mountain passes leading to Iraq's borders.

April 1991: By mid-April, an estimated 1 million Iraqi refugees have arrived in Iran. A massive airlift mounted by UNHCR, with support from various donors, begins pumping supplies into Iran, but the needs are massive.

To the north, the number of Iraqis encamped on the snow-covered slopes on either side of the border with Turkey exceeds 500,000 people. The majority is located in eight isolated mountain sites. Some 100,000 people are scattered outside the camps and in dire need of shelter and assistance.

Relief agencies provide immediate aid, and a 13-nation coalition military force provides logistical support, with some 200 aircraft and 20,000 military and civilian personnel working to save the displaced.

During the period March to May 1991, more than 500 Iraqis a day are estimated to have died from exposure, hunger and illness in the remote border regions of Turkey and Iran. Infant mortality is tragically high. The only solution for many of them is to return home with the help of humanitarian agencies, but their security inside Iraq is still uncertain.

April 5, 1991: The Security Council passes Resolution 688, demanding that the Iraqi government end the repression of Iraqi civilians and allow international organisations to aid the displaced. The western governments announce the creation of "safe havens" patrolled by allied aircraft in order to head off further arrivals in Turkey.

The UN refugee agency, led by High Commissioner Sadako Ogata, is asked to "undertake full operational responsibility" and becomes the lead agency to care for the uprooted Iraqis.

Soon thereafter, US President George Bush launches Operation Provide Comfort to establish a "security zone". Displaced Iraqis begin going back to their home areas.

April 18, 1991: The Iraqi government agrees to grant the UN access to displaced Iraqis in the border zones. Some of the estimated 1.3 million Iraqi refugees in Iran start going back to their homeland under the protection of the no-fly zone over the coalition-declared safe havens.

Mid-May 1991: By mid-May, some 80,000 Iraqi refugees have gone home from Iran. UNHCR's budget increases to $267.6 million. The agency has 334 national and international staff in Iraq, Iran and Turkey by June.

Mid-June 1991: By the second week of June, nearly 1 million Iraqi refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) have trekked home. But there are still more than 600,000 Iraqi refugees in Iran and 13,400 refugees in Turkey.

Throughout the summer months, refugees and displaced persons continue heading home, particularly in the northern "safe havens." The presence of a 500-strong force of armed UN guards in the north facilitates the work of aid workers and helps to reassure the returning Iraqis. But the scale of destruction following the Iraqi army's withdrawal is massive, and 640,000 Iraqis are still displaced in the north.

Early Sept 1991: In Iran, 70,000 Iraqi refugees remain in camps and 50,000 are living with relatives and friends. Only some 5,000 refugees remain in Turkey in a camp near Silopi, from where about 100 persons are repatriating daily.

Late Sept 1991: UNHCR launches a $35-million shelter programme to provide mud-walled homes with corrugated iron roofs for some 350,000 remaining refugees and displaced persons inside northern Iraq.

To help Iraqis rebuild their homes, more than 1,600 UNHCR-hired trucks begin sending shelter materials in late September to the Sulaimaniah, Erbil and Dohuk provinces of Iraq, while 3,300 shelters for up to 40,000 people are dispatched to Iran.

Oct-Dec 1991: The situation inside Iraq remains in flux. In October, new military operations by Baghdad's army displaces more than 200,000 people in the north over a two-month period, bringing the number of IDPs inside Iraq to more than 700,000 by December.

The saga of war and displacement in Iraq enters a new phase.