UN calls on Iraq to prepare to move Iran exiles

The UN called on Iraq on Tuesday to organise the transport of Iranian dissidents to a new location within the country, citing progress towards the implementation of a December deal on the exiles.

Under the December 25 agreement, around 3,400 Iranians hostile to Iran government will be moved from Camp Ashraf to a new location called Camp Liberty, as part of a process that aims to see them resettled outside Iraq.

"It is now time for the Government of Iraq to organise the modalities of the transport from (Camp Ashraf) to Camp Liberty and other relevant issues with the residents," the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) said in the statement, as "further steps have been achieved" toward the deal's implementation.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the UNAMI Human Rights Office "confirmed that the infrastructure and facilities at Camp Liberty are in accordance with the international humanitarian standards" as required by the deal, it said.

"Additionally, UN monitors are ready to start round-the-clock human rights monitoring during the transport of residents from (Camp Ashraf) as well as upon their arrival at Camp Liberty," it said.

"UNHCR is also ready to commence the refugee status determination as soon as residents start arriving to the camp" -- a necessary step before they can be resettled in other countries.

Now executed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein allowed the rebel People's Mujahedeen to set up Camp Ashraf during his regime's 1980-88 war with Iran.

When Saddam was overthrown in the US-led invasion of 2003, the camp came under US military protection, but American forces handed over security responsibilities for the site to the Baghdad authorities in January 2009.

The camp has been back in the spotlight since a controversial April raid by Iraqi security forces left at least 34 people dead and scores injured.