|Residents of 'Camp Ashraf' in Iraq at risk .|
|Tuesday, 27 December 2011 14:57|
Index: MDE 14/047/2011 Iraq Date: 22 December 2011Between 400 and 800 Iranian nationals living in a camp in Iraq could be transferred to a new location at the end of this year. Their security could be at risk while they are being moved. Amnesty International is calling on the Iraqi authorities to ensure their protection.
Camp New Iraq, formerly known as Camp Ashraf, situated 60 kilometres north of Baghdad, is home to some 3,250 Iranian asylum-seekers who have lived in Iraq for some 25 years. They are associated with the Iranian opposition group, the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI). The camp has been attacked several times by Iraqi security forces, most recently in April 2011, causing the deaths of dozens of residents and injuries to others.
On 15 December, the Iraqi authorities publicly confirmed their plans to close the camp on 31 December this year. In an interview with press agency Agence France Presse (AFP), Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said that the decision to close the camp was “irreversible”. On 21 December, Nuri al-Maliki announced that he had agreed to extend the deadline for closing the camp until April 2012, but wanted the camp's residents to have left Iraq by then. However between 400 and 800 residents could be temporarily moved to another camp, known as Camp Liberty, before the end of the year. Meanwhile the residents of Camp Ashraf have agreed that 400 residents can move to Camp Liberty, if certain safeguards are in place regarding their protection. PMOI representatives have announced they are ready to negotiate this with the Iraqi government as soon as possible as well as negotiating a peaceful solution for the rest of the residents.
The office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) had previously announced in a statement that it had received a high number of asylum requests from the camp residents and was putting in place a process to assess such requests on an individual basis. This process has not yet started.
Please write immediately in Arabic or English:
? Urging the Iraqi authorities not to commit human rights violations against the camp residents;
? Urging the Iraqi authorities to take all necessary measures to ensure the safety of the residents of Camp New Iraq at all times, including during the planned transfer of at least some of them to Camp Liberty.
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