Press Releases, 26 July 2012
The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) called today for cooperation, patience and understanding of all parties involved in efforts to find solutions for the residents of the Camp "New Iraq" (formerly camp Ashraf) north of Iraqi capital Baghdad. Protection and solutions for some 3,200 current and former residents of the camp are the primary objectives of efforts led by the United Nations to close the camp peacefully and resolve the situation of its residents.
UNHCR is currently assessing individual protection needs of former residents of Camp New Iraq once they are transferred to Hurriya (Liberty) transit centre. "Status determination, however, does not in itself resolve things," said UNHCR's Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, Ms. Erika Feller, on return recently from Baghdad. "It must be accompanied by efforts from all concerned, in good faith and in a spirit of international solidarity, to offer resettlement solutions and, in the interim, to assist people to stay safely and decently until such solutions can be materialized".
UNHCR also reiterates its calls to States to respond in a timely manner by allowing for readmission of individuals having had previous links with them or by offering resettlement places or other forms of humanitarian admission. It is hoped that, consistent with its long-standing tradition of generosity and hospitality, the Government of Iraq will maintain the asylum option in Iraq pending realization of solutions for these individuals. UNHCR also appeals to States for financial support including for the host country to meet costs associated with transferring, hosting, housing, assisting and processing the cases of these individuals until solutions have been found.
Former Camp Ashraf has been in existence since the mid-80s. Most of its residents are of Iranian origin. Following a decision by the government of Iraq to close the camp, UNHCR, together with UNAMI has been working on solutions for its population. Those found to be in need of international protection may have the possibility of being resettled to another country. Concerted efforts by the United Nations are being made to resolve the situation of other camp residents in a safe and peaceful way.
There are currently 1,938 individuals in Hurriya transit center. Another 1,286 individuals are still in camp New Iraq, awaiting transfer to the Hurriya transit centre.