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The situation in Karabakh continues to worsen, with thousands of people seeking refuge in Armenia according to reports from UN agencies.
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The situation in Karabakh continues to worsen, with thousands of people seeking refuge in Armenia according to reports from UN agencies.

Over 65,000 individuals have registered at centers operated by the Government, resulting in long queues.

On Friday, Filippo Grandi, the head of UNHCR, announced on Twitter that over 100,000 refugees have reached Armenia from Karabakh.

Anxiety and fear

Kavita Belani, a representative of the agency in Armenia, has been providing core relief items to refugees since the start of the crisis.

“People are tired. This is a situation where they’ve lived under nine months of blockade. When they come in, they’re full of anxiety, they’re scared, they’re frightened and they want answers as to what’s going to happen next.”

Ms. Belani stated that immediate necessities were psychological aid, medicine, and housing for all individuals due to the large number of people arriving. Additionally, there should be specialized assistance for those who are most at risk, such as the elderly and children.

According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), 30% of the individuals arriving are under the age of 18 and a significant number of them have been separated from their families.

The United Nations is fully actively responding.

UNICEF is collaborating with the authorities to ensure prompt family tracing, enabling the children to be reunited with their relatives.

Ms. Belani stated that UNHCR is in charge of coordinating the response for refugees across agencies to support the Armenian Government’s actions. A request for finances is currently being completed.

She emphasized that although the plan was designed for six months, the UN was considering providing long-term aid to assist Armenia in integrating the newcomers.

Earlier this week, Alice Wairimu Nderitu, the UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, expressed her deep worry about the current situation and urged all possible measures to be taken in order to guarantee the safety and rights of both the remaining and departed ethnic Armenian population in the area.


Regina De Dominicis, UNICEF Regional Director and Special Coordinator for Refugee and Migrant Response in Europe, expressed that a significant worry for humanitarians is the separation of numerous children from their families.

“We aim to offer psychosocial assistance and collaborate with government agencies and local officials to ensure prompt family tracing and reunification.”

Starting from Sunday, towns in Armenia near the border with the Karabakh area have transformed into temporary shelters for refugees.

According to the IFRC, individuals who fled to Armenia from Azerbaijan had limited time to gather their belongings and depart in vehicles such as cars, buses, and construction trucks. While some refugees were relieved to have reached safety, they continue to suffer from emotional distress and uncertainty about what lies ahead.

IFRC representative Hicham Diab, who was in Yerevan, Armenia, observed that people of all ages and genders had clear expressions on their faces when they arrived at registration points. These expressions conveyed a lot of information.

Refugees leave their possessions in a tent in Goris, Armenia.

© UNHCR/Karen Minasyan

In Goris, Armenia, refugees abandon their belongings inside a tent.

Each visage conveys a narrative.

Every face has a tale of struggle, yet also of optimism, as they are aware they are in a location where they can receive assistance.

The dire circumstances were worsened by a blast on Monday at a gas station in the Karabakh region, resulting in the death of at least 68 individuals as reported by local officials.

A further 105 individuals are currently unaccounted for after the explosion, which allegedly took place as a large number of people were queuing to acquire fuel in order to evacuate.

According to Carlos Morazzani, the Operations Manager of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the main focus of the organization in recent days has been on life-saving efforts. This includes transporting injured individuals to hospitals in Armenia for treatment and providing necessary medical supplies.

“In the previous week, we have transported approximately 130 individuals for medical treatment. Following the explosion, we have intensified our communication with all local authorities.”

UN operation expands

The United Nations group in Armenia, headed by interim Resident Coordinator Nanna Skau, is collaborating with the Government to assist with the quickly increasing number of people arriving.

Around 93,000 individuals have entered Armenia, according to the most recent official data. The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) is providing aid to numerous women at transit centers in the southeastern areas of Syunik and Vayots Dzor. This aid includes 8,000 dignity kits, which contain items such as drinking water, sanitary pads, and soap.

Approximately 150,000 health kits have been dispersed to aid refugees and the communities hosting them.

The WFP has established two mobile storage units in Goris to store non-food items and a movable kitchen that can cater to 3,000 individuals on a daily basis.

The organization provided food packages with protein-rich foods, grains, and cooking oil to assist 30,000 individuals in the Syunik region who are facing hardship.

The UN Development Programme (UNDP) is getting ready to introduce a program for psychosocial assistance to meet the needs of more than 12,000 refugees.

A United Nations team is traveling to the region.

The UN Spokesperson informed reporters at the UN Headquarters that the Azerbaijani Government has given permission for a UN mission to be sent to the region. This deployment is scheduled to occur over the upcoming weekend.

He stated that it would be the first instance in approximately three decades where UN groups have been granted entry.

Mr. Dujarric stated that the team would consist of a technical group from OCHA and be led by a senior representative from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the UN Resident Coordinator in Azerbaijan.

He emphasized the significance of being able to gain entry.

During their time there, the team will aim to evaluate the current conditions and determine the humanitarian requirements for both those who have stayed and those who are in transit.