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UNHCR calls for action for safety of seven Camp Ashraf hostages

NCRI - The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees issued a statement on Friday expressing grave concern for the safety of the seven Camp Ashraf residents taken hostage during the September 1 deadly attack.

"These seven are all known by UNHCR to be asylum-seekers, and the agency hopes to have an opportunity to interview them. In light of the numerous and persistent reports over the past week that these individuals may be at risk of forced return to Iran, UNHCR calls upon the Government of Iraq to locate them, to ensure their physical security, and to safeguard them against return to Iran against their will."

Text of the statement by the UNHCR:


Update No. 7

Camp New Iraq (formerly Camp Ashraf) residents and the processing of their cases for solutions

• Following the deadly attack on Camp New Iraq of 1 September, in which more than 50 residents died, UNHCR remains gravely concerned for the safety of former residents of Camp New Iraq. According to reports reaching UNHCR, seven individuals formerly residing in Camp New Iraq disappeared from the Camp on 1 September, are being held somewhere in Iraq and may be at risk of being returned involuntarily to Iran. These seven are all known by UNHCR to be asylum-seekers, and the agency hopes to have an opportunity to interview them. In light of the numerous and persistent reports over the past week that these individuals may be at risk of forced return to Iran, UNHCR calls upon the Government of Iraq to locate them, to ensure their physical security, and to safeguard them against return to Iran against their will.

• UNHCR is pleased that the remaining 42 residents of Camp New Iraq have been safely transferred to Camp Hurriya, and has reiterated the urgent need for enhanced physical protection in that location, asking the Government of Iraq to do everything in its power to guarantee the security of the Hurriya residents.

• In light of their security concerns following attacks on Camps Hurriya and recent events in Camp New Iraq, the majority of residents have decided not to attend interviews scheduled for them with UNHCR to process their cases. Nevertheless, 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. 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.

• 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 210 residents have departed to other countries.

UNHCR 13 September 2013

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