- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 31, 2012

U.N. officials said Tuesday that conditions at a new camp for Iranian dissidents in Iraq meet international standards and that they had asked the Iraqi government to prepare to transport the exiles to the site.

“It is now time for the government of Iraq to organize the modalities of the transport from Camp New Iraq to Camp Liberty and other relevant issues with the residents,” the U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) said in a statement.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees and the UNAMI human rights office confirmed that infrastructure and facilities at Camp Liberty are in accordance with the international humanitarian standards stipulated in a deal struck between the U.N. and Iraqi government, it added.

Camp New Iraq is the Iraqi government’s name for Camp Ashraf, which is located north of Baghdad. Camp Ashraf is home to more than 3,000 members of the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK), which was designated a terrorist group by the State Department in 1997. The State Department is reviewing that designation.


Martin Kobler, special representative of the U.N. secretary-general for Iraq, said the progress at Camp Liberty “brings us a step further in ensuring that proper conditions are in place for voluntary relocation of Camp New Iraq residents.”

U.N. monitors are ready to begin monitoring human rights conditions during the transfer of Camp Ashraf residents to Camp Liberty. And UNHCR will start the process of determining the dissidents’ refugee status as they start to arrive at the new location. This is a necessary first step to resettle the residents in other countries.

Residents of Camp Ashraf have accused the Iraqi government of preparing prison-like conditions for them at Camp Liberty. The new site was a U.S. military base near the Baghdad International Airport.

The Iranian dissidents say Camp Liberty has been reduced to a fraction of its original size, is surrounded by tall concrete walls, and is monitored by surveillance cameras and police, a violation of the deal with the Iraqi government.

The Iraqi government has set an April deadline to shut Camp Ashraf, whose residents surrendered their weapons in 2003 as part of a cease-fire with U.S. forces.