Starting Anew․․․ The Struggle for Resettlement after Displacement

Published: Apr 29, 2024 Reading time: 4 minutes
Starting Anew․․․ The Struggle for Resettlement after Displacement
© Photo: Shushanik Nersesyan

Stories of displacement seem never-ending: they all have similarities, yet each remains unique in its own right. Frequently, narratives revolve around individuals forced to leave everything behind and embark on a journey into the unknown.

Over 100,000 ethnic Armenians displaced from Nagorno-Karabakh have resettled across Armenia, grappling with the challenges of everyday life. We endeavour to support them as much as possible to navigate the myriad difficulties caused by their displacement. With the financial support of the European Union, we’re extending assistance to over 2,000 people by covering their utility bills and helping them endure the harsh cold of winter.

Mila and Liana are among the displaced individuals who have received payments through our project.

“My teacher in Goris is as nice as the one I had in Nagorno-Karabakh” 

Mila, originally from Hadrut, endured displacement twice: first during the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war and then again in 2023. Alas, the latter proved to be permanent. Now residing in a rented house in Goris with her husband, five children, mother, and brother, through tears, she recalls the day they were displaced:

“We barely escaped and survived. We didn’t realise what was happening then”. 

They fled with only their documents, but the children took their school photo albums. 

Angelina, their eldest daughter (12), has a knack for painting. She once painted a picture of her teacher from Karabakh, though after displacement, they lost touch. Angelina continues to paint, and one of her pieces is hanging on the school's wall in Goris. Despite the upheaval, she declares, “My teacher in Goris is as nice as the one I had in Nagorno-Karabakh.”

Slowly, they adapt to their new environment, attending school, engaging in dance classes, and seeking new learning opportunities to expand their horizons and fill the day. Despite the many difficulties they’ve faced, they maintain optimism and childlike enthusiasm, eagerly sharing the songs and dances they’ve learned with us.

Handicrafts as a means of living  

Liana, displaced from Stepanakert with her family, shows the handicrafts her 13-year-old daughter, also called Angelina, made. Angelina made cases from carpet adorned with “Artsakh” and “Goris” inscriptions and refrigerator magnets featuring Armenian patterns.

Angelina spent four years studying carpet weaving in Nagorno-Karabakh. She had only a year remaining in her studies before displacement disrupted her plans. Undeterred, she continues to pursue her passion in Armenia and sells many of her crafts. However, what she brought from Artsakh holds special significance and is meticulously preserved.

Residing in a rented house in Goris, the family of eight—Liana, her husband, their five children and Liana’s mother—faces challenges. Their home is so damp that they must rely on a combination of wood and electricity to constantly warm it and make it possible to sleep at night.

Liana worked as a pastry chef in Nagorno-Karabakh, preparing various types of pastries, cakes, and pies. Unfortunately, she couldn’t bring her confectionery supplies along to Armenia. Despite this setback, she hopes that one day, she will resume her passion for pastry-making as a beloved hobby and a source of income.  

Witnessing these stories underscores the vital importance of even the smallest forms of support in alleviating the suffering of those displaced by conflict. People in Need, along with our consortium partners Medecins du Monde (MdM) and Mission Armenia (MA), have initiated one more project -“Multisectoral emergency assistance to vulnerable conflict-affected population” - with funding from the European Union. Through different mechanisms, we joined efforts to assist over 23,000 individuals affected by the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh in September 2023, including those within host communities. We provide eco-friendly briquettes for warmth during the harsh winter months, utility payments, child-friendly spaces catering to children aged 3-15, and vouchers for equipment, clothes and practical items such as foldable beds and blankets.

We implement and carefully tailor each programme component in specific regions to address the distinct needs of vulnerable populations. We identified the families in need of our assistance with the support of local authorities, mirroring our approach in other programmes. 

Autor: Elma Vardanyan

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