The Iraqi government’s patience is "wearing thin" with exiled opponents of Iran who are refusing to leave their camp north of Baghdad, a UN envoy warned Thursday.
About 1,200 members of the People’s Mujahedeen of Iran have stayed at Camp Ashraf despite a UN-brokered accord with the government to leave as a first step toward finding homes in other countries, Martin Kobler, the UN Special Representative for Iraq, told the UN Security Council.
There have in the past been deadly clashes at the camp, which was given to the Mujahedeen as a base in the 1980s by late dictator Saddam Hussein.
"Time is running out to find a sustainable solution. The government’s patience is wearing thin," said Kobler, who heads the UN mission in Iraq (UNAMI).
"Recent weeks have witnessed difficulties in maintaining dialogue between UNAMI and the residents, and between the residents and the government of Iraq, reinforcing a perception that the residents lack a genuine will" to move, he added.
About 1,800 inhabitants have moved to a new camp nearer Baghdad and several deadlines to completely empty Camp Ashraf have passed.
Kobler, however, said almost no resettlement offers have been made and countries must now come forward to help. He also appealed to Iraq’s government to "avoid violence under any circumstances."
Iraq’s UN ambassador, Hamid al-Bayati, also called on European countries and other states to find a home for Camp Ashraf residents as part of "a final solution for this problem."
Earlier this month, the US government said the Iranian exiles must leave the camp if they were to be removed from Washington’s terror blacklist.
The People’s Mujahedeen was founded in the 1960s to oppose the Shah of Iran, but took up arms against the country’s new clerical rulers after the Islamic revolution of 1979.
The group, which has been on the US terror blacklist since 1997, says it has renounced violence and has asked Washington to remove it from its list of terrorist organizations.