December 21, 2011 - Ottawa, Ontario - Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird meets with Abdulrahman Hamid Mohammed Al-Husaini, Iraq’s Ambassador to Canada, in Ottawa, December 21, 2011. While the two touched on a broad range of security issues in the Middle East and on the reconstruction of Iraq, the focus of their discussion was Camp Ashraf.
This refugee camp had been set to close at the end of the month, but on December 21, the Iraqi government announced a 6-month extension of that deadline. This will allow the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees more time to consider and facilitate outstanding asylum requests.
Minister Baird thanked the Iraqi ambassador for the extension, which Canada pressed for over the past several months.
Most recently, Baird told the House of Commons on December 2, 2011, that Canada encouraged such an extension. Baird directed officials of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada to visit Camp Ashraf and keep him apprised of developments there. The Minister also summoned Iraqi officials on several occasions and expressed Canada’s deep concern over the instability closing the Camp might cause.
The House of Commons Subcommittee on International Human Rights, whose members are Scott Reid, Irwin Cotler, Wayne Marston, Nina Grewal, David Sweet, Russ Hiebert and Ève Péclet, aired the issue of Camp Ashraf thoroughly this fall and worked across party lines with Baird to ensure the safety and security of refugees in the camp.