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UN Chief Urges Iranian Exiles To Move From Iraqi Camp

Iraqi police clash with exiled Iranian dissidents inside Camp Ashraf in 2009.
Iraqi police clash with exiled Iranian dissidents inside Camp Ashraf in 2009.
The United Nations chief has urged 1,200 Iranian exiles to follow an order to leave a camp in northern Iraq and resettle at a new camp near Baghdad.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on August 1 also urged other countries to give asylum to exiled dissidents from the Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO, aka MEK).

Iraqi security forces led deadly raids on Camp Ashraf twice in the last four years, including an Iraqi Army raid last year that left 34 exiles dead.

The exile group already has moved about 2,000 residents from Camp Ashraf to Camp Hurriya near Baghdad.

But it ignored a July 20 deadline to move the remaining people out of Camp Ashraf.

It says they will stay until they see proof of improvements to Camp Hurriya, such as increased water and electricity supplies, better facilities for the sick and disabled, and other infrastructure developments.

The UN has said it considers conditions at Camp Hurriya already better than at most refugee camps around the world.

The MKO has been labeled everything from a cult to a terrorist organization, although one that has provided the United States with intelligence on Iran.

The group says it renounced violence in 2001, after carrying out bloody bombings and assassinations in Iran in the 1980s.

But the Iraqi government considers the group to be a terrorist organization that is in the country illegally.

On July 31, Iraqi National Security Adviser Faleh al-Fayadh warned the group to move soon or the government in Baghdad would take matters into its own hands.

Ultimately, the Iraqi government and UN officials want to give the Ashraf residents refugee status and resettle them outside of Iraq.

The United States on August 1 expressed concern about Baghdad's threats to force the Iranian dissidents out of the camp.

But Washington also is urgin members of the group to relocate voluntarily to Camp Hurriya, a large former U.S. military base near Baghdad.
With reporting by Reuters and AP
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