BAGHDAD - The UN said Tuesday that it has a "roadmap" to resolve a dispute between Iraq and a group of Iranian exiles, but a senior official warned that Baghdad would act if there was no resolution to the row.
About 1,200 members of the People's Mujahedeen of Iran, opposed to the regime in Tehran, have refused to move from their camp north of the Iraqi capital despite a UN-brokered accord with the government to leave as a first step toward finding homes in other countries.
The exiles cite broken promises by Baghdad as the reason for their staying put.
On Thursday, the UN mission in Iraq said it had presented a roadmap to the Iraqi government and Ashraf residents "that suggests a series of steps to complete the peaceful relocation of residents to Camp Hurriyah (Liberty)."
It called on Ashraf residents to "start the preparations for the next move without delay" and for Baghdad to "be generous when it comes to the humanitarian needs of the residents and to continue to seek a peaceful solution to this issue under any circumstances."
The UN said in a statement that the roadmap "outlines preparations to be made and a step-by-step approach for the relocation."
It also addresses issues such as water and power supply and other humanitarian needs, the statement said without giving full details of the roadmap.
However Shahin Gobadi, spokesman for the exiled opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran, dismissed the roadmap as "an obvious attempt to compel the (Ashraf) residents to relinquish their humanitarian needs."
The Paris-based group said it had sent letters to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Monday complaining that "minimum humanitarian needs" are not being met in Camp Hurriyah.
A senior official in Baghdad said that the government would act "responsibly to protect the sovereignty and security of Iraq" if a resolution is not reached to the impasse.
About 1,800 inhabitants have moved to the new camp near Baghdad and several deadlines to completely empty Camp Ashraf have passed.
The remainder have refused to move, citing inhuman conditions at the new camp and broken promises on the part of the Iraqi government with regards to the quality of the camp.
Earlier this month, the US government said the Iranian exiles must leave the camp if they are to be removed from Washington's terror blacklist.
The People's Mujahedeen was founded in the 1960s to oppose the Shah of Iran, but took up arms against the country's new clerical rulers after the Islamic revolution of 1979.
The group, which has been on the US terror blacklist since 1997, says it has renounced violence and has asked Washington to remove it from its list of terrorist organisations.