THE arrival of this mass of fifty thousand destitute refugees in Ramadan naturally created an awkward problem for the military authorities. It was manifestly impossible for the Assyrians to remain there. Northern Persia was already living on the borde~line of starvation. It was, however, with considerable reluctance that it was decided that they should be sent down to Mesopotamia. These hungry mouths would add considerably to the already great difficulties of rationing, and there was every risk of outbreaks of disease. On the way down from Urmiyah they had already suffered greatly from dysentery and even typhus. But there was no alternative. Most of the able-bodied men were formed into four battalions, and a fifth was formed of the Armenians. These were commanded by British officers with the assistance of British N.C.O.s. In August 1918 the threat of a Turkish thrust in the direction of Teheran still existed. It was intended to use these battalions to meet it. The Assyrians were quite willing to fight though they strongly objected to be used as labour battalions. They had only two desires: to punish the Turks and to return to their former homes. As it happened, they were not employed before the Armistice was declared. Soon after this they followed the rest down to Baquba. They went sorely against their wills, as they felt they were leaving their home lands still farther behind. A project indeed had been mooted that, led by their British officers, they should return to Urmiyah and thence to Rakkiari. No obstacles could have been expected except those provided by the weather. Turkey was prostrate, the Persians weak, and the Kurds unlikely to fight. Nothing came of this plan, but if it had

been successfully carried out, the Powers at Versailles would have been faced with a fait accompli, which they would, no doubt, have been only too willing to accept. In August the rest of the refugees had started off again from Hamadan on the last portion of their five hundred miles trek. They were gradually shepherded down to Baquba, a town some thirty miles north-east of Baghdad. Here an enormous refugee camp was established. It was at first run on approved military lines, and the cost was high. In June 1919, nearly a year after the Armistice, Colonel F. Cunliffe Owen took charge. He succeeded in reducing the cost of the camp from about £80,000 to £40,000 a month. Nevertheless, the total expenditure on the part of the British Government for these refugees exceeded three million pounds, a mere nothing, perhaps, compared with the vast sums which had been, and were still being poured into the arid plains of Mesopotamia, but enough to justify any claim that the British might care to put forward that they had carried out a piece of really great humanitarian work.