THE last 280 residents of Camp Liberty in Iraq, which has been subject to several attacks in recent years, were flown to Albania last week.
The camp was home to almost 3000 members of the People’s Mujahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI), an opposition group in exile from Iran, who were transferred from their original home, Camp Ashraf, also in Iraq, in 2012.
Both camps came under fire, resulting in injury and loss of life. Responsibility for a missile attack last year on Camp Liberty, in which a reported 20 people were killed, was claimed by an Iraqi Shia militia, the Mukhtar Army (News, 6 November). In 2013, the UN discovered 52 bodies at the camp; all appeared to have suffered gunshot wounds (News, 13 September, 2013). Anglican bishops, including the Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, called for the group to be protected. In January, a former Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Revd John Pritchard, described the attacks as evidence of the “dark shadow of Iran” (News, 29 January).
A resettlement programme had been making slow progress. Last week, the evacuation and resettlement of the final residents to Albania was welcomed by the chairman of the US House Foreign Affairs Committee, Ed Royce, and his Democrat colleague Eliot Engel.
“The safety and security of the residents has always been our primary concern, and they have now been effectively placed beyond the immediate reach of Iran and its terrorist proxies operating in Iraq,” they said. “While the completion of this resettlement is good news, we know that attacks on Camp Liberty, as well as Camp Ashraf, cost far too many lives.
“We also thank the government of Albania for its generosity and compassion. They have opened the doors to the people of Camp Liberty, and have allowed this process to move forward.”
The PMOI has been in Iraq since the 1980s. Members were offered “protected persons” status by the US army in 2004, under the Fourth Geneva Convention.
The President of the PMOI, Maryam Rajavi, described the relocation as “a strategic defeat for the regime. It is also the beginning of the Iranian Resistance’s march towards freedom and democracy, heralding a new era of change.”