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International solution needed for humanitarian crisis in Ashraf, Iraq

Australian Greens senator Scott Ludlam was joined by Labor MPs Kelvin Thompson and Laurie Ferguson, Labor senator Claire Moore and Nationals senator John Williams today in a tripartite call for urgent action to solve the humanitarian crisis in ‘Ashraf City', Iraq.

The Ashraf refugee camp in Diyala, Iraq, is currently home to about 3,400 Iranian men, women and children who have fled the dictatorship in Tehran. Control over the camp was transferred from US forces to the Iraqi Government on January 1 2009 with assurances the residents would be treated in accordance with international and Iraqi law. Instead, they have been subjected to violent attacks from Iranian and Iraqi forces.

"The Iranian regime was implicated in at least three missile and bomb attacks on the camp in 2008, and at the end of March 2010, under pressure from Tehran, Iraqi authorities deployed two army divisions within the perimeter of Ashraf City - not to protect the residents, but to repress them," said Senator Ludlam. "On April 8th, an attack on the camp by Iraqi forces resulted in a reported 34 immediate fatalities and at least 350 people wounded."

The senators and MPs will write to Minister for Foreign Affairs Kevin Rudd on this matter, specifically asking that he call for the immediate withdrawal of Iraqi forces from the vicinity of the refugee camp and for the deployment of United Nations observers and peace-keepers to Ashraf.

Amnesty International has repeatedly spoken out against the attacks, calling for protection of Ashraf's residents, and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has strongly condemned the attacks.

Media Contact:

Giovanni Torre (Office of Senator Scott Ludlam) - 0417 174 302



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