EU Names Advisor on Iraq’s Camp Ashraf

Posted September 26th, 2011 at 10:11 am (UTC-5)
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The European Union has appointed a senior Belgian diplomat to work with the United Nations and others on finding a solution to the plight of more than 3,000 Iranian government opponents living in a camp in Iraq.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton tapped Jean De Ruyt Monday as her advisor on Iraq's Camp Ashraf. The camp of more than 3,000 residents is a base of the Iran's main armed opposition group, the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran.

The U.S. considers the group a terrorist organization and transferred security of the camp to Iraq in 2009. Iraq says it will close the camp by the end of the year.

The EU has removed the group from its list of terrorist organizations. EU representative Struan Stevenson says the U.N. is assessing the camp's residents for refugee status with the intention of resettling them elsewhere. However, he says this process cannot be completed before the year's end.

A raid by Iraqi security forces on Camp Ashraf earlier this year drew international concern for the residents there. U.N. human rights chief Navi Pillay has said the raid killed at least 34 people.

Pillay had called for an independent probe into the Iraqi military raid.

Iraq and Iran also consider the group a terrorist organization.

Last month, Iran and Iraq signed an agreement to extradite criminals wanted by the two neighbors.