Speaking at the event, the Office representative in Azerbaijan Guido Ambroso said that over a million people in Azerbaijan became refugees and IDPs and thanked the government handling this situation.
It was a miracle that, despite such a great number of resettled people, there was no serious epidemic or terrible famine, Ambroso noted.
In those days, the UN resettled people in factories, buildings, camps and even railcars in Azerbaijan, the Office representative said.
In 1993-1994, the Office provided about 700,000 IPDs with tents, bedding and other accessories for equipping camps, Ambroso noted, adding that at the same time, 30,000 ill people were provided with various medical supplies in Azerbaijan.
From the very first days, it was clear that the situation of people who live in inappropriate places should be improved, in particular, these people should be provided with drinking water, and sanitary conditions need to be improved, the UN representative said.
Ambroso noted that the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in 1993-2000 spent about $50 million on the implementation of programs and administrative expenses in Azerbaijan.
Since 2001, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees has directed its efforts at enhancing the potential of people wishing to obtain refugee status and improving the situation of people who have arrived from countries such as Afghanistan, the UN representative added.
Along with this, given the vulnerability of the group, the UN Office continues to work with IDPs, Ambroso said.
During the year, about 2,000 IDPs, refugees and other persons belonging to vulnerable groups receive glasses from the Japanese organization, the UN representative noted, adding that Fuji Optical company spent $2.8 million for implementing this mission in Azerbaijan in 2005-2019.
To date, 33,800 people have been examined and 57,000 pairs of glasses and 434 hearing aids have been issued, Ambroso said.
In turn, Azerbaijani Commissioner for Human Rights (Ombudsman) Elmira Suleymanova said that the ratio of the number of refugees and IDPs in the country to the total population is big.
“The country has a million refugees per 10 million people,” Suleymanova noted. “There is no such ratio in any country in the world. The difference between refugees and IDPs in Azerbaijan from refugees in the world is that we faced this unexpectedly and in very difficult conditions.”
The Azerbaijani ombudsman said that the occupied Azerbaijani lands are very fertile, and they could have been used effectively in agriculture.
In turn, Deputy Chairman of Azerbaijan’s State Committee for Family, Women and Children Affairs Sadagat Gahramanova said that the conditions of IDPs should be improved. They should be rendered maximum assistance so that they can get rid of the stress resulting from the loss of their land, the deputy chairman noted.
“However, we all know that this is impossible,” Gahramanova added. “Although settlements and buildings are being constructed for refugees and IDPs in Azerbaijan, there are still people of this category who have housing problems. Children who were born after the [Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh] conflict are already 26-27 years old. They feel themselves in these apartments as temporary residents. This itself is a psychological stress.”
The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. As a result of the ensuing war, Armenian armed forces occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts.
The 1994 ceasefire agreement was followed by peace negotiations. Armenia has not yet implemented four UN Security Council resolutions on withdrawal of its armed forces from Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding districts.