"Housing is one of the major problems the Armenian refugees from Azerbaijan face"
“Housing is one of the major problems the Armenian refugees from Azerbaijan face. We are neglected. We assume that authorities demonstrate such attitude on purpose,” said Robert Khachatryan, chairman of the Union of Baku Compatriots during the discussion on “Armenian refugees from Azerbaijan living in temporary housing for 26 years: social and political isolation.”

Since 1994 the United Nations has allocated USD 20mln for building apartments for refugees; in 2004-2009 the state budget allocated USD 2-5 mln yearly for the same purpose. Khachatryan believes that the money was not used effectively and vanished because of corruption.

Larisa Alaverdyan thinks that the amount was not enough for solving the housing problem of the people forcibly displaced (or internally displaced) from Azerbaijan. She says that about 80,000 refugees from Azerbaijan managed to exchange their houses and to keep their fortune (property), whereas about 360,000 Armenians were forcibly displaced, thus losing everything. Meanwhile, according to Alaverdyan, even powerful states made it clear that they can admit not more than 25,000 refugees, since the more people the more difficult to solve their problems.

“The international practice does not have such a case when the issue of refugees remains unsolved 20-25 years. The government needs to find a relevant solution. The lack of enough money should not refer to refugees,” she adds.

Alaverdyan also points out that Armenian and Azerbaijani governments have different approaches towards the problems of refugees. Armenia does not even have such an institution to deal with these issues.

“Azerbaijani Minister who deals with refugees has a Prime Minister status. Azerbaijan prioritized this issue in its policy. Besides, it has done the impossible, it was able to reach out to anyone with its convincing lies,” Alaverdyan says.

Aragats Akhoyan believes that one of the shortcomings with Azerbaijani Armenians is a poorly organized integration process. “If the problem of integration was solved, each individual would have tried to seek ways out on its own without expecting much from the government. The same mistake is being made for Syrian Armenians. An attempt is made to build a new district and to isolate them.”

However, the discussion covering the problems of Azerbaijani Armenians was left unfinished. Those present were so angry with years of negligence that the discussion turned into a protest by demonstrating their terrible social conditions. The discussion was interrupted because of the noise.

On March 20, the Media Center organized a discussion on “Armenian refugees from Azerbaijan living in temporary housing for 26 years: social and political isolation” within its “For Equal Rights” initiative. Among the speakers were Aragats Akhoyan, MP and member of the NA Standing Committee on Social Affairs, Martin Tadevosyan, member of the NA Standing Committee on Protection of Human Rights and Public Affairs, Larisa Alaverdyan, head of the NGO Against Illegal Arbitrariness and Robert Khachatryan, chairman of the Union of Baku Compatriots. 

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