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The United Nations has welcomed safe relocation of about 400 residents of the Iraqi settlement formerly known as Camp Ashraf to a new transit centre elsewhere in the country, calling it "the first step towards a better future" for the residents, who are Iranian exiles.

UN News Centre
The 400 people who voluntarily relocated today - the first to do so - now reside in Camp Hurriya, a temporary transit location, according to a press release issued by the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) in Baghdad.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) will immediately start the process of verification and refugee status determinations, a key step in preparing the submissions of eligible candidates for resettlement in third countries.

Today's relocation is in line with the memorandum of understanding signed in December by the UN and the Iraqi Government to resolve the situation facing the residents of Camp New Iraq (formerly Camp Ashraf), who are members of a group known as the People's Mojahedeen of Iran.

Martin Kobler, the head of UNAMI and the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Iraq, commended the 400 or so residents for their decision to move to Camp Hurriya.

"This is the first step towards a better future outside Iraq," he said. "I look forward to their continued cooperation with the Iraqi authorities to complete the relocation without delay."

Mr. Kobler also commended Iraqi authorities "for having ensured a safe and secure relocation of the first group of residents. I urge them to pursue the relocation of the remaining residents in a manner that continues to guarantee the human rights, safety and welfare of all residents."

He urged other Member States to confirm that they are ready and willing to accept eligible candidates from Camp Hurriya who want to resettle in third countries.

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