Page last updated at 19:30 GMT, Friday, 22 January 2010

The plight of the Kurdish refugees

At the end of the first Gulf War in 1991, Charles Wheeler joined a relief convoy to make his way into Iraq from Iran as a human sea of Kurdish refugees came in the opposite direction. They were fleeing from the Iraqi onslaught and amassing on the Iran-Iraq border near the town of Halabja.

The report made a significant impact in government, and was subsequently sold to the US Networks. Within a day or so, a British initiative launched by John Major, persuaded the Americans to set up safe havens in Iraqi Kurdistan, which, under UN protection, remain to this day.

Newsnight's librarian Adam Gotch chose this film because it is not about the battle or the bombing, it tells the story of the people - and it is a reminder of the fear they felt under Saddam Hussein. It made a significant impact on government and it would be remarkable to think that the film played a part in their subsequent intervention, Adam says.

Originally broadcast on 15 April 1991.

A special programme to mark Newsnight's 30th anniversary will be broadcast on Saturday 23 January 2010 at 8pm on BBC Two.

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