UN and Iraq sign agreement to relocate Iranian exiles

Martin Kobler

The United Nations and the Government of Iraq have agreed to relocate thousands of Iranian exiles living in a camp in the north-eastern part of Iraq.

Camp Ashraf, home to more than 3,000 Iranian exiles, houses members of a group known as the People’s Mojahedeen of Iran.

The Iranian exiles are being relocated in order to start a process of refugee determination, a necessary first step for their resettlement outside the country according to a news release issued by the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq, UNAMI.

The agreement includes "a clear commitment from the Government of Iraq to ensure the safety and security of the residents at the new location," and to have a liaison officer from the Ministry of Human Rights involved in the relocation.

The UN’s top envoy to the country, Martin Kobler underscored that the relocation was voluntary and based firmly on all sides acting peacefully and in good faith.

Meanwhile, the UN has agreed to provide around the clock monitoring until the process is completed, and UNHCR will immediately deploy a team at the new location to proceed with the verification of the claims for refugee status it has received.

Before signing the agreement the Iraqi Government had repeatedly stated its intention to close down the camp by 31 December and to transfer residents to another location until countries willing to accept them for resettlement were found.

See related story: UN News Centre.

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