Statement published on August 5, 2014, by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on Iranian refugees in Camp Liberty, Iraq:
Update No. 11
Conflict in Iraq continues to affect residents of the Hurriya Temporary Transit Location • The surge in conflict since June 2014 has continued across significant areas in Iraq. Violence has displaced hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, who have either moved internally or across borders to become refugees in the region. UNHCR and its partners have scaled up operations to respond to their urgent needs for protection and assistance.
The dramatic deterioration of the security situation in Iraq as a result of the fighting is equally worrying in the context of the efforts – on-going since 2011 – of UNHCR and the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) to find relocation opportunities outside Iraq for former residents of Camp New Iraq (formerly Ashraf). Approximately 2,700 people reside in the Hurriya Temporary Transit Location (TTL) near the Baghdad International Airport (BIAP).
The residents suffered three separate rocket attacks in 2013, each of which resulted in deaths and injuries. In addition, an attack against Camp New Iraq in September 2013 left 52 dead and seven persons missing. The escalation in conflict across Iraq leaves residents of the Hurriya TTL open to significantly heightened security risks.
In light of the current situation, UNHCR urgently renews its calls upon governments of other countries to admit residents and to find ways to offer long term solutions to all. If long term solutions cannot be made available immediately, the urgent need to relocate the residents would justify an extradordinary evacuation to a temporary platform from where they could be permanently relocated to a third country. UNHCR stands ready to assist states in achieving this.
UNHCR deeply appreciates the measures taken by some countries already to relocate residents to situations of safety and security. These measures contribute greatly to international efforts to find solutions for this group of people.
UNHCR recalls that all residents of the Hurriya TTL registered with UNHCR are persons of concern to UNHCR. They are thus entitled to protection against expulsion or forced movement to any place where their lives or freedom would be threatened. The Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of Iraq and the United Nations explicitly recognizes that residents benefit from the principle of non-refoulement.
UNHCR continues to call upon the Government of Iraq to take all possible measures to ensure the safety and well-being of residents, including ensuring access to life saving medical treatment.
5 August 2014