United Nations top envoy in Iraq today voiced his concern about the delay in the relocation of the residents of Camp New Iraq – formerly known as Camp Ashraf – to a new location, Camp Hurriya, prior to resettlement in third countries.
“I urge the remaining residents of Camp Ashraf to relocate to Camp Hurriya without delay,” the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), Martin Kobler, said. “The relocation process should not be stalled. I am concerned that there will be violence if the relocation doesn’t recommence. Any violence would be unacceptable.”
“I call on the Government of Iraq to avoid any forceful relocation. Each relocation must be voluntary. The United Nations supports only a peaceful, humanitarian solution and stands ready to facilitate,” he added in an UNAMI statement.
The Mission added that the relocation to Camp Hurriya has been stalled since the arrival of a fifth group of residents on 5 May.
Camp New Iraq – made up of several thousand Iranian exiles, many of them members of a group known as the People’s Mojahedeen of Iran – has been one of the main issues dealt with by UNAMI for more than 18 months.
In line with a memorandum of understanding signed in December 2011 by the UN and the Iraqi Government to resolve the situation, some two-thirds of the residents, or 2,000 people, were re-located to a temporary transit location near Baghdad known as Camp Hurriya – and formerly known as Camp Liberty – where a process to determine refugee status is being carried out by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
UNAMI added that the relocation process has come a long way since February 2012. Two thirds of the residents have already moved to Camp Hurriya, prior to resettlement abroad. Among them are hundreds of people with special needs, suffering from disabilities and serious medical conditions.
“I also urgently call on States to include residents who are eligible for refugee status in their resettlement quotas and to offer them a path to a more hopeful future outside Iraq,” Mr. Kobler said.
UNAMI staff monitor the human rights and humanitarian situation during the relocation process and provide round-the-clock human rights monitoring at Camp Hurriya.
Under the memorandum of understanding from last December, the Government of Iraq is responsible for the safety and security of the residents during their relocation and for the duration of their stay at the camp.