Helping those displaced by the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh

Published: Nov 16, 2020 Reading time: 3 minutes
Helping those displaced by the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh
© Foto: Člověk v tísni

Since the outbreak of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, People in Need (PIN) has been supporting thousands of people fleeing the violence and crossing into Armenia. PIN will continue to provide humanitarian assistance to this population through the winter.

Recent armed clashes in Nagorno-Karabakh have left many people in the region in desperate need of humanitarian assistance. Drawing on PIN’s extensive experience in the South Caucasus, we have released $50,000 USD from the Club of Friends to launch a humanitarian operation in south Armenia. While PIN’s previous programmes in Armenia have focused primarily on development projects to boost tourism, the economy, and employment in the Syunik Region, and to tackle unemployment in the Shirak Region, the team has quickly changed gear to the provision of humanitarian aid. 

The total population of Nagorno-Karabakh is approximately 145,000. It is estimated that about 100,000 people have been forced to flee the fighting in this breakaway region. The majority of the area’s women, children, and the elderly have left their homes due the armed clashes, seeking safety in Armenia. 

Good hygiene is essential

Since the beginning of the conflict, the City of Goris, in Armenia’s Syunik Region, has been the main entry point from Nagorno-Karabakh into Armenia. Displaced people either stay in Goris, or they continue on to other regions that can host them. There are currently thousands of displaced people living in hotels, kindergartens, and with host families in Armenia.

Since the very beginning of the conflict, PIN has focused on helping the displaced meet their basic needs. We have provided hygiene kits to more than 1,200 families; each kit contains 14 necessary items, including soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, towels, sanitisers, protective masks, and tissues. An additional 480 children, 600 women, and 110 seniors received individual kits for personal hygiene. In the Tavush Region, PIN also supported vulnerable families with the distribution of food.

In addition, PIN has distributed leaflets and public notices to raise awareness of COVID-19, as the number of infected people in the region has been steadily increasing.  

Child-friendly spaces

Many of the children affected by the conflict are in need of psychosocial support to deal with the trauma they have experienced. To help them cope, PIN has opened a child-friendly space in the library of the City of Goris, in cooperation with Goris Municipality. Varduhi Dadunts, PIN Armenia Country Director, says: “It is a place where children can forget for a while what they experienced during the conflict of the past few weeks. They can draw, watch animated movies, play with others, and simply be kids again. Children and their parents will be supported by psychologists to help them deal with the current situation.” 

In addition to PIN, hundreds of local initiatives, volunteering groups, NGOs, and individuals are helping those displaced by the conflict. Marek Štys, PIN’s Head of Emergency Programmes, notes: "In addition to our field work, we have been focusing on mobilising our key humanitarian donors to release the necessary funding. It seems very likely that tens of thousands of displaced people will stay in Armenia over the winter. There have also been many reports about the plight of people displaced or otherwise affected by the conflict in Azerbaijan, which must not be overlooked.”  

PIN currently supports people in the Syunik, Armavir, Ararat, and Tavush Regions of Armenia. We’ve also been following the development of humanitarian needs in Azerbaijan, and are working on different ways to support the affected communities there.  

Autor: Tereza Hronová, Shushanik Nersesyan

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