Camp Liberty Situation Not Acceptable and Untenable

“Shelter expert’s” lies on Liberty infrastructure ready to host 5500 people exposed

The statement of UNAMI on January 31, stated “the infrastructure and facilities at Camp Liberty are in accordance with the international humanitarian standards stipulated in the MoU.” A technical report by a shelter expert dated January 30 which served as basis for the UNAMI statement confirmed that “the camp is currently configured to accommodate 5,500 persons.” The UNAMI statement pretended that the UNHCR had approved the situation of camp Liberty, but the latter was explicit in its February 1 statement that the the new location was “being provisioned” and “the UNHCR has been advising on the technicalities of improving the camp infrastructure.”

A day after the arrival of 397 Ashraf residents at Liberty it is crystal clear that the shelter expert’s report has been totally unrealistic, and far from being below humanitarian standards, camp Liberty’s infrastructure does not even meet humanitarian standards.

The bungalows and toilette facilities were so dirty and unusable that the residents were obliged to stay in their buses during the night. There is serious water shortage and electricity is cut off, as in prisons, after 1030 PM.

It seems the shelter expert was compelled to file an unrealistic report, and that is why a first draft of the “technical report” had been sent to UNAMI’s political authorities for necessary modifications.

Before the report, a series of propaganda photos had been submitted to Ashraf residents and their representatives as well as the OHCHR, the UNHCR, US and EU officials and representatives in order to present Liberty like a comfortable paradise. It is now evident that the photos and the report were meant to justify the unjustifiable, illegal and hurried expedition of Ashraf residents to Liberty.

Since the beginning of December, Ashraf residents, their representatives and lawyers as well as 23 well renowned American personalities, President of the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq, General David Phillips and Colonel Wesley Martin (both formerly in charge of Ashraf’s protection) and many other personalities insisted on visiting Liberty prior to transfer of the residents. But the just and logical demand was refused in an incomprehensible manner. Obviously the result of such a visit would have been the conclusion that the camp did not meet the minimum required standards and that the residents should not be transferred to it.

Apart the unacceptable facilities and infrastructure, the lack of the least humanitarian needs including freedom of movement, access to lawyers and journalists, freedom of entrance of visitors and the presence of armed Iraqi forces; the way the residents were transferred to Liberty and the prohibition of taking along much of their personal belongings are obvious violations of the MoU between the UN and the Iraqi government and the February 15 letter of the Special Representative of the Secretary General to Ashraf residents on relocation arrangements.

A number of items that were allowed to be transferred by Iraqi forces in the presence of UN observers consisted of medicine, medical instruments, power generators, office facilities (chairs, tables and copy machines), water heaters, sanitary equipment, cupboards, etc.

This happened while in the February 15 letter of the SRSG it was explicitly cited that the residents can take along goods and medical facilities and it was stated in the MoU that the Iraqi government permits the residents to take all their transferable goods with them to Liberty.

Iranian Resistance while reiterating that the condition of camp Liberty is not at all acceptable and untenable, underscores the fact that under such conditions praising and commending the Government of Iraq would only encourage further reneging and further oppressive measures. The Iranian Resistance calls the UN Secretary General, the SRSG, the US, and EU to condemn the current situation at Liberty and the violations perpetrated by the Government of Iraq.

Secretariat of the National Council of Resistance of Iran

Shahriar Kia is a member of the Iranian opposition (PMOI /MEK). He is a human rights activist and political analyst on Iran and the Middle East.