This document provides an overview of developments in Iraq for the month of December 2011, with hyperlinks to source material highlighted and underlined in the text. For more information on the topics below or other issues pertaining to the region, please contact the members of the Mediterranean Basin Team, or visit our website at www.cimicweb.org
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is poised to begin a process of refugee status determination for residents in Camp Ashraf, which shelters a group known as the Mujaheddin-e Khalq (MEK); described as an Iranian opposition group with cult-like characteristics. The UN envoy for Iraq called upon the Iraqi government to extend their deadline for the camp closure, scheduled for 31 December. US officials are concerned that, unless MEK opposition leader Maryam Rajavi gives her approval, there will be a bloodbath at the camp, reports Inter Press Services (IPS).
According to the report, the international community is particularly concerned MEK members will commit mass suicide then allow Iraqi security forces to remove them from the camp. Unconfirmed reports indicate that the Iraq government, along with the UN envoy, are close to an agreement which would transport camp residents to Baghdad where the UNHCR would determine camp member resettlement preferences, reports IPS.
The UN News Centre reports that the UN envoy to Iraq encouraged the government, the Council of Representatives and Iraqi citizens to continue to advance and protect human rights within the country as US troops exit.
United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) is tasked with assisting the Iraqi government in the areas of elections, reconciliation, the resolution of disputed boundaries, human rights and humanitarian concerns, as well as reconstruction and development. General Secretary Ban KiMoon has appointed György Busztin of Hungary as his Deputy Special Representative to Iraq.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) reports that Iran and Turkey cross-border attacks into autonomous region of Kurdistan, Iraq have killed more than a dozen civilians and displaced thousands between July and November 2011. They are justifying their actions as a response to armed Kurdish militants in the region. However, Kurdish residents told HRW that many of the areas that were attacked by Iran and Turkey are purely civilian.