To make our own determination about any specific individual ('s refugee status), the United States needs to know more about them, and such information can be obtained only after they move to Hurriya and participate in the UNHCR's status determination process.
US Dept. of State
AMBASSADOR FRIED: Thanks, everyone, for joining. The U.S. has and continues to welcome and support the peaceful temporary relocation and eventual permanent resettlement of the residents of Camp Ashraf in Iraq. This was the heart of Secretary Clinton's statement on December 25th last year. Our purpose is humanitarian. We welcomed the signing of the MOU last Christmas Day between the Iraqi Government and the UN. This MOU charts a peaceful way forward.
Since the signing of that MOU, the Iraqi Government has worked to prepare a portion of former Camp Liberty, now called Camp Hurriya, to receive the first residents on a temporary basis, working in regular and close touch with the UN and the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. That work has made enough progress that the UN last week confirmed that the facilities and infrastructure at Hurriya are in accordance with international humanitarian standards.
The UN recommended that the Government of Iraq and the Ashraf residents discuss details of the first move to Hurriya. Yesterday, an Iraqi representative met with the leadership of Camp Ashraf to discuss these details. The UN was present as facilitator. These discussions, according to all of our information, were businesslike and productive.
The United States welcomes this progress, and we look forward to the first residents moving from Camp Ashraf to Camp Hurriya in the immediate future. In any move of this kind and in the early days, once people are settling into Hurriya, problems may arise, of course. Patience, goodwill, and willingness to resolve logistical issues in a practical way will be critical.
The United States, through its Embassy in Baghdad and my office, will continue to support the reasonable, prompt resolution of issues that arise, cooperating with the UN and the Iraqi Government and in contact with the residents at former Camp Ashraf and, of course, Hurriya.
The residents of Camp Ashraf must make the decision to start this relocation process. Camp Ashraf is no longer a viable home for them. They have no secure future there. On the other hand, the Government of Iraq has committed itself to the security of the people at Camp Hurriya and is aware that the United States expects it to fulfill its responsibilities.
The UN has committed itself to stationing monitors at Camp Hurriya on a round-the-clock basis. In addition, as Secretary Clinton made clear in her statement, the U.S. will visit Hurriya on a regular and frequent basis.
Camp Hurriya is intended as a temporary transit facility to support the safe departure of former Camp Ashraf residents from Iraq. In this regard, while the UN and the UNHCR are doing and will continue to do their part, governments in Europe and beyond and the United States must do our part as this process unfolds.
Once at Camp Hurriya, some people may decide to return to Iran, but on a voluntary basis only. Several hundred already have in the past. Others may have citizenship or valid residency status in third countries and should be able to return to their homes promptly. Still others may qualify for refugee status under UNHCR's mandate.
The residents who relocate to Camp Hurriya will need to be considered individually. To make our own determination about any specific individual, the United States needs to know more about them, and such information can be obtained only after they move to Hurriya and participate in the UNHCR's status determination process.
In short, it is time for the MEK to make the decision to start the move out of Camp Ashraf to Camp Liberty-Hurriya from where they can begin new lives outside of Iraq. A peaceful solution, no matter what the circumstances, is the only acceptable solution, but it is time to move forward.
Now, with that, I'll take your questions. And - oh, I should add that the UN head of mission in Iraq Martin Kobler and I were in Europe late last week discussing all of these issues with the European Union, with European parliamentarians, and I met separately with the French Government to discuss the way ahead. So this is an issue very much in motion.