With almost 2,000 former Camp Ashraf residents now relocated to Camp Hurriya (formerly Camp Liberty), the United States of America today underscored the peaceful closure of Camp Ashraf is achievable, but requires continued patience and practical engagement to be realized.
In her remarks in Washington DC today, Department Spokesperson, Victoria Nuland said the United State urged the residents of Camp Ashraf to resume full cooperation immediately with the Iraqi Government and United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI).
“The United States also urges the Iraqi Government to intensify its efforts to fulfill its commitments to provide for the safety, security, and humanitarian treatment of the residents.” -Ms. Nuland
She says constructive offers must be met with a constructive spirit, and not with refusals or preconditions to engage in dialogue.
Recent publicly-declared conditions for cooperation, including calls for the Department to inspect Camp Ashraf as a precondition for further relocations to Camp Hurriya, are an unnecessary distraction, Ms. Nuland stressed.
She said the United States has made clear that cooperation in the closure of Camp Ashraf, the Mojahedeen-e Khalq’s (MEK’s) main base, is a key factor in determining whether the organization remains invested in its violent past or is committed to leaving that past behind.
“We fully support the path laid out by the United Nations for the peaceful closure of Camp Ashraf along with sustainable solutions for its former residents.” -Ms. Nuland
She said Camp residents and their leadership – both in Iraq and in Paris – should recognize this path as a safe and humane resolution to this situation.
Only a peaceful implementation of the Iraqi government’s decision to close the Camp is acceptable, Ms. Nuland added.
“The Iraqi government bears the responsibility for the security and humane treatment of the individuals at Camp Ashraf.” -Ms. Nuland
In May this year, the United States of America addressed the challenges in the relocation of Camp Ashraf residents to Camp Liberty.
The United States has acknowledged the process of relocating residents to Hurriya has had challenges.
Each convoy, carrying approximately 400 Ashraf residents, their personal effects, and large quantities of cargo to Hurriya, has been a significant logistical undertaking.
The Iraqi government has provided dozens of coach buses and cargo trucks and literally thousands of Iraqi security forces to provide for the convoy’s security on the road, he stated.
The reparation of each convoy is lengthy and disagreements, sometimes heated, have occurred between the Iraqi authorities and the residents about cargo, screening procedures and other issues.
The U.S. Embassy and Department of State says they have followed the progress of each convoy closely, often in real time, in support of the UN; and they say they are well aware of the difficulties involved.
The United States has emphasized that patience and compromise have been required, and will still be required, as the last convoys needed to close Camp Ashraf are organized.
Camp Hurriya, when under U.S. control, was part of the largest coalition base in Iraq, housing thousands of American and coalition forces during military operations in Iraq.
The containerized housing units (CHUs), which the former Ashraf residents now occupy, previously housed US service personnel, he noted.
Hurriya also includes among its living spaces a large dining facility, fitness facility, a mosque, and recreational space for the residents.
UNAMI, with active U.S. support, is working at high-levels with the Iraqi government to ensure the welfare of the residents is not compromised and to resolve issues that arise, Mr. Fried stated.
The US asserts that the way for residents out of Iraq lies through the UNHCR process.
The United States has informed the UNHCR and its international partners that they will receive UNHCR’s referrals of some individuals.
In December 2011, the Residents of Camp Ashraf in Iraq declared readiness for relocation of the first group of Camp Ashraf residents. They were moving from Camp Ashraf, to Camp Liberty with their vehicles and moveable belongings.
Situated in the eastern Iraqi province of Diyala, Camp Ashraf houses members of a group known as the People’s Mojahedeen of Iran. The Iraqi Government has 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 are found.
The important agreement stipulates providing temporary relocation and eventual resettlement of the more than 3,000 residents of Camp Ashraf in Iraq.
The United States of America welcomed the peaceful departure of the first 397 residents from Camp Ashraf and joined the United Nations in welcoming their safe arrival at Camp Hurriya
Camp Ashraf was resident to 3400 members of the PMOI, main opposition and threat to Iranian mullahs. The Camp has been attacked by the Maliki forces on several occasions. The last attack led to a bloodbath; 33 killed by direct precision shooting and US Humvees ramming residents, 325 wounded and 6 taken as hostages by Iraqi thugs.