UN chief appeals for countries to take Iran dissidents
UNITED NATIONS - UN chief Ban Ki-moon appealed on Thursday for countries to consider resettling several thousand Iranian dissidents living in Iraq who were recently moved to a former US military base in Baghdad from a camp where they lived for decades.
In a report to the Security Council, Ban said 3,112 members of the People's Mujahideen Organization of Iran have been transferred to Camp Hurriya, leaving about 100 still at Camp Ashraf - also know as Camp New Iraq - to help close it down.
Ashraf residents agreed in February to move to the new camp, where the United Nations intends to process them for refugee status in other countries, but they have complained that the conditions at the new base are poor and that they have not been permitted to bring many of their personal belongings.
The group is no longer welcome in Iraq under the Shi'ite Muslim-led government that came to power after US-led forces invaded and toppled Saddam in 2003. Clashes between Ashraf residents and Iraqi security forces last year killed 34 people.
Ban said so far only 31 people had been accepted by other countries and that it was now a matter of urgency that they be offered resettlement opportunities in other countries.