UNHCR statements on Camp Liberty residents
Subsequent to the deadly attacks of July 2009 and April 2011, concern about the safety of the residents of Ashraf resulted in more international attention being paid to the residents’ situation. As such, UNAMI and UNHCR said they would work toward addressing the needs of the residents. In summer of 2011, the residents submitted applications to UNHCR requesting that their refugee status in Iraq being recognized officially. A legal process commenced. Eventually on September 13, 2011, after receiving applications from all Ashraf residents for asylum, UNHCR declared the residents to be “asylum seekers under international law”, which entitled them “to benefit from basic protection of their security and well-being.” Furthermore, UNHCR stated, “[it]…would work together with the Government of Iraq and the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) and other concerned actors to identify a location [for asylum processing] that ensures the safety and respects the rights of all individual applicants.” As part of this, UNHCR also committed to “putting in place a process to consider these requests on an individual basis in a fair and efficient procedure.”
Ever since, the UNHCR has issued statements reiterating the residents’ fundamental rights and emphasizing that the residents are considered as “persons of concern”. However the residents, their lawyers and experts on refugee law are complaining that with respect to the residents of camp Liberty the UNHCR is not fully committed to its mandate as stipulated by the United Nations General Assembly.