Statement issued by the United Nations High Commissioner for refugees on July 19, 2013:
Camp New Iraq (formerly Camp Ashraf) residents and the processing of their cases for solutions
UNHCR has expressed continued deep concern for the safety and security of the residents in the Hurriya Temporary Transit Location (TTL), following the second deadly attack on 15 June. UNHCR reiterated the urgent need for enhanced physical protection, asking the Government of Iraq to do everything in its power to guarantee the security of the residents. Invoking their security concerns following the two attacks on Camp Hurriya, a number of residents have decided not to attend interviews scheduled for them with UNHCR to process their cases. Nevertheless, pursuant to the Memorandum of Understanding between the United Nations and the Government of Iraq of 25 December 2011 on the situation of the residents of Camp New Iraq, UNHCR continues to process the applications of the residents who have been transferred, on a voluntary basis, to Camp Hurriya and who engage with UNHCR.
Camp residents who have submitted requests for international protection are formally asylum-seekers under international law. In the absence of a national system of adjudication in Iraq, UNHCR is considering these requests on an individual basis in an appropriate procedure. Individual interviews are taking place – with those who engage – in a safe and neutral location, and in full confidentiality. Transmittal to States of the cases of those with determined international protection needs is ongoing. Pending their relocation outside Iraq, the residents are in transit in Camp Hurriya, while their claims are being processed, as provided for in the above-noted Memorandum of Understanding.
International law requires that asylum-seekers must be able to benefit from basic protection of their security and well-being. This includes protection against any expulsion or return to the frontiers of territories where their lives or freedom would be threatened (the non-refoulement principle) as well as treatment in accordance with basic humanitarian standards – including, most importantly, their security. The primary responsibility for ensuring respect for these standards lies with the Government of Iraq. Freedom of movement is the most desirable state while processing takes place.
UNHCR, together with the Government of Iraq, UNAMI and other concerned actors, including importantly the international community, remains committed to doing its part in finding peaceful solutions to this long-standing problem. Accordingly, UNHCR and UNAMI are continuing their combined efforts to find solutions, including relocation opportunities, for the residents who wish to depart Iraq. To date a total of 135 residents have departed to other countries.