posted on Thu 15 Dec 2011 3:59 PM
Monthly DPA Briefing on Emerging Issues

Tomorrow (Friday, 16 December) Council members will have their monthly briefing on emerging issues by the head of the Department of Political Affairs, B. Lynn Pascoe. It seems Pascoe is likely to update on a UN technical mission to the Sahel (a vast band stretching from Senegal to Eritrea) and on the Camp Ashraf situation in Iraq.

It seems that in discussing the situation in the Sahel region, Pascoe may focus on the UN inter-agency assessment mission that was jointly sent by the UN and AU to the Sahel region to assess the impact of the Libya crisis on Mali, Niger, Chad and Mauritania in early December.

The Secretary-General’s 20 June report on the UN Office for West Africa (UNOWA) (S/2011/388) indicated that weapons had been transferred from Libya and fallen into the hands of terrorists in the Sahel, which could have a destabilising effect on the region. Resolution 2017, adopted by the Council on 31 October, underlined “the risk of destabilisation posed by the dissemination in the Sahel region of illicit small arms and light weapons.” It also took up the suggestion in the Secretary-General’s report that countries in the Sahel and UNOWA strengthen their cooperation to combat emerging security and humanitarian issues.

Council members were last briefed on the situation in Camp Ashraf on 6 December by Martin Kobler, the head of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI). He said that the Iraqi government had asked the UN for assistance in facilitating a peaceful and durable solution to the situation. (Camp Ashraf houses dissidents from a group known as the People’s Mujahedin of Iran. The Iraqi government has said it intends to close down the camp by 31 December and to transfer residents to another location until it finds countries willing to accept them for resettlement. Camp residents are unwilling to leave until there is a resettlement solution.) The Secretary-General’s latest report on Iraq, which was discussed by Council members during consultations on 6 December, urges countries to indicate willingness to accept the residents of Camp Ashraf for resettlement.

It seems that UNAMI and UNHCR have formed a working group on Camp Ashraf and have been meeting regularly with the Iraqi government. Council members are likely to be concerned about possible confrontation and violence if a mutually acceptable solution is not found before the 31 December deadline.