Ex-UN envoy expresses concern about Iranian refugees in Camp LibertyPublished by International Liberty on June 5, 2015
In an online video discussion on Wednesday the Ex-UN Iraq Envoy Mr Ad Melkert answered questions about the current crisis in Iraq and the situation of Iranian refugees currently in Camp Liberty near Baghdad International Airport.
In this video Mr Melkert, former head of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (2009-2011) emphasised the importance of national unity to solve the current problems in Iraq and called for international protection for Camp Liberty.
“More generally in Iraq, the situation has become more chaotic, more difficult to govern and more questionable with regard to the national unity that will bring the country to a better future”, he said.
He also addressed and responded to questions about Camp Liberty and warned that “the possibility of escalation cannot be excluded at all, thus a good reason to expedite the efforts to find a solution for the residents.”
Answering a question about the killing of over 100 Ashraf and Liberty residents in previous attacks, he said, “At the time of the atrocities in Camp Ashraf, we tried as UN to convince the Iraqi government to put in place impartial investigation into what happened, into who was behind and into how the protection could be provided in the future. However there was unfortunately no support for that.
“There is no doubt that the Iranian government has played a role and very probably is playing a role in keeping pressure on the government of Iraq not to let the Camp Liberty residents go. In any case I know for a fact that the atrocities that took place at the time that the residents were still at Camp Ashraf … that could not have been done without some level of support by the Iranian side.”
Asked whether there have been any changes during the new Iraqi government, he described the current situation as unpredictable and unreliable and said “… I had some expectation that with the start of the new government under the leadership of Prime Minister Al Abadi that it would be possible to create some détente around Camp Liberty, and to work constructively toward solutions.
“Unfortunately, I do not think that the functioning of the so called Ashraf Committee which is in charge of the management and supervision of the camp has changed.”
The former UN Envoy for Iraq emphasised that the position of the residents of Camp Liberty needs to be seen through the angle of a humanitarian tragedy and added “in fact to see people actually almost taking hostage in a situation that is not of their doing. They had to leave their premises at Ashraf where they had cultivated and built a really good standard of living, that standard of living is definitely worse in where they are now. There are issues on ongoing basis with medical services, with electricity provisions, sewage system and you name it. Making life unpleasant, sometimes unbearable, exposing them to intimidations which should not be the case.”
Referring to proposals in his report on solutions for Camp Liberty, which have been sent to many decision-makers in Iraq but also in Europe and in North America, Mr Melkert said: “The first thing is really the need that the residents are fully recognised as refugees and the camp as such, have the status of a refugee camp. That is important because there is international standards and international practice that provides protection by that type of assignments and official deceleration. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees is key to that, they are on records that the residents are indeed people of concern to them and that they have right to seek asylum”.