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Harper pens concerns for Camp Ashraf

20 July 2012

THE worsening humanitarian situation faced by the residents of Camp Ashraf and Camp Liberty has prompted the Archbishop of Armagh, the Most Revd Alan Harper, and 19 other bishops to express "deepen- ing concern" to the UN secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon.

In a letter published on Tuesday, Archbishop Harper condemned comments by representatives of the United States State Department "in which it appeared that the residents of Ashraf . . . were threatened with armed intervention risking a potential massacre on or after July 20 2012".

This is the deadline set by the Iraqi government for the residents of Ashraf - members of the People's Mujahedin of Iran - to vacate the camp and move to Camp Liberty, a deserted former US military base outside Baghdad ( News, 24 February). Nearly 2000 residents have already done so, but 1300 have refused until the Iraqi government meets demands for humanitarian supplies, including air-conditioning.

On 6 July, Ambassador Daniel Benjamin of the US State Department said that the Iraqi government's patience was "running thin" over the impasse. Another ambassador, Daniel Fried, said that the residents of Ashraf had made "constantly shifting demands".

Camp Liberty "is recognised by all reasonable people as falling far short of minimum humanitarian conditions for refugees", Archbishop Harper said. The Iraqi govern- ment had "reneged on earlier agreements".

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