What's In Blue

Posted Mon 6 Aug 2012

DPA “Horizon-Scanning” Briefing

Tomorrow afternoon (7 August), Council members are scheduled to be briefed in consultations by the head of the Department of Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman on emerging issues. The two issues which are set to be raised are Somalia and Camp New Iraq (formerly Camp Ashraf). This will be the first time that Feltman, a former US Ambassador to Lebanon who recently succeeded B. Lynn Pascoe, will brief Council members. It will also be the first monthly “horizon-scanning” briefing since March (when the UK held the presidency).

On Camp Ashraf/New Iraq, Feltman is likely to brief Council members on the transfer of the remaining residents. (The camp, located about 90km north of Baghdad, once housed over 3,000 dissidents from a group known as the People’s Mujahedin of Iran, which called for the overthrow of Iran’s clerical leaders, and was initially expected to close down on 31 December 2011.) At the Secretary-General’s request, the Iraqi government, which does not support the group, has repeatedly extended the deadline to close the camp. The Government has been working with the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) as well as the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to process residents for relocation to third countries.

The July Secretary-General’s report on UNAMI (S/2012/535) noted that the remaining 1,300 residents of Camp New Iraq had refused to move to Camp Hurriya, the temporary transit location, ahead of the latest deadline which expired on 20 July. Council members are likely to be interested in an update from Feltman on the further extension of the deadline for the camp’s closure, although some consider that, relative to Iraq’s other challenges, the issue perhaps receives too much attention in the Council. (Due to sectarian and political divisions in Iraq, key ministerial posts have been unfilled for months; July was also one of the bloodiest months in the last two years with at least 325 people reported killed and 700 injured.)

On Somalia, Council members will likely be interested in an update from Feltman on the situation on the ground as the deadline of 20 August for the transition to permanent federal institutions draws near. After convening on 25 July, the National Constituent Assembly approved on 1 August a provisional constitution to replace the Transitional Federal Charter which has been in place for the last eight years. (The draft constitution is later expected to be put to a national referendum.) Tomorrow’s briefing comes as Somalis this week celebrated the one-year anniversary of the removal of the militant group al-Shabab from the country’s capital Mogadishu.

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