Armenia: UN launches urgent appeal to help refugees fleeing Karabakh
“We call upon the international community to urgently support refugees and their hosts,” said Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees. “International support is crucial to sustain this welcome and to enable us to respond to immediate needs and to also build upon the resilience of this population.”
Following the escalation of hostilities at the end of September, more than 100,000 refugees arrived in Armenia in less than a week.
The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, with UN entities and non-governmental organization (NGO) partners, is appealing for emergency funds to provide urgent humanitarian aid and protection to refugees and those hosting them in Armenia, in support of the Government-led response.
‘Remarkable’ local welcome
“Local host communities have generously opened their doors and displayed tremendous solidarity with refugees,” Mr. Grandi said. “The local response, led by national authorities, volunteers and civil society, has also been equally remarkable.”
The Armenia emergency refugee response plan brings together 60 partners, including 43 national NGOs, and covers relief efforts for a six-month period, until the end of March 2024.
The joint plan aims to support some 231,000 people including 136,000 refugees and 95,000 members of local host communities. The plan also takes into account the upcoming, harsh winter months.
Meeting critical needs
Among new arrivals, are some 30,000 children and many vulnerable people, including pregnant women, those with disabilities, and others with chronic health conditions. More than half of the refugees are older people and children.
Many fled with just the few possessions they were able to grab and arrived distressed, exhausted, and apprehensive about the future. They now require critical support, according to UN agencies.
Having to absorb more than 100,000 refugees in a matter of days, there is immense pressure on the host community in Armenia and on existing national services. Refugee arrivals represent over 3.4 per cent of the country’s population and are in addition to a pre-existing refugee, asylum seeker, and stateless population of some 35,000 people.
The response plan will support and complement the Government response, with an emphasis on emergency protection and assistance, while at the same time focusing on inclusion, resilience, and solutions from the start, reaching both refugees and the host communities, according to UNHCR.
The plan covers multiple sectors, notably protection, with a focus on gender-based violence, child protection, education, food security, nutrition, health, resilience, shelter, and non-food items. A longer-term focus will aim to ensure inclusion and the strengthening of national public services.