Martin Kobler, the UN Special Representative for the Secretary-General and head of the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI), welcomed the relocation of a third group of MKO members residing in Camp Liberty near Baghdad airport to Albania. The latest transferred group of 27 makes it a total of 71 out of the 210 offered to be accepted by Albania.
“A total of 71 men and women now have safely arrived in Albania and have benefited from the Government of Albania’s offer to accept 210 of the Camp’s residents,” said Martin Kobler.
Some 3,000 residents, most of them members of a group known as the People’s Mojahedeen of Iran, are temporarily housed in a transit facility called Camp Liberty, also known as Camp Hurriya, while the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) carries out a process to determine their refugee status.
Mr. Kobler said in addition to Albania, Germany has offered to relocate some 100 residents. The departure of the group from Iraq is in accordance with the memorandum of understanding of 25 December 2011, which foresees the relocation of the residents to third countries.
“I once again thank both countries’ governments for their generosity and call on other Member States to receive residents as well,” the UN envoy said.
The relocation comes just days after two people were reportedly killed and dozens injured in a mortar attack to the camp. “Last week’s tragic events have once again shown how important it is to relocate the residents to third countries as quickly as possible,” Mr. Kobler noted.
When Albanian Prime Minister, Sali Berisha, made the humanitarian offer to take about 210 members of MKO, many began to consider it a promising sign that could be the beginning of an end to the residents’ sufferings and the beginning to promote cooperation of other countries and to pave the way to take more refugees. The offer was at first rejected by the group’s leaders and the group’s propaganda machine kept lashing Mr. Kobler and condemning him for pressing relocation of residents:
“Kobler misused the humanitarian act of the Albanian government in accepting 210 of the residents for his own propaganda purposes in order to avoid the urgent security crisis and to divert attention from his own destructive role in forcefully evicting the residents and transferring them from Ashraf to the Liberty killing field”
The US Secretary of State, John Kerry, has made remarks concerning the outright refusal of MKO to accept the offer of resettlement in Albania saying:
“We had worked out an arrangement with the Albanians to take about 250 people, but then the people in the camp themselves declined to go. So we’re trapped in a kind of round robin.”