The United Nations mission in Karabakh has been informed that a sudden exodus has resulted in as few as 50 ethnic Armenians remaining in the area.
Following a mission led by the UN’s Resident Coordinator in Azerbaijan on Sunday, a statement was released. The mission included other high-ranking agency officials who observed and confirmed that there were no visible damages to public buildings in the city of Khankendi.
The UN team stated that they were surprised by the sudden departure of the local residents from their homes, and they acknowledged the hardship it must have caused them.
The team also stated that they did not receive reports of violence against civilians after the most recent ceasefire, either from local interviews or other sources.
The team was informed by those they spoke with that there are currently between 50 and 1,000 ethnic Armenians living in the Karabakh region.
Saw no damage
The UN delegation journeyed from Aghdam to Khankendi, also referred to as Stepanakert by the Armenian population.
During their visit, they did not see any noticeable harm to public facilities such as hospitals, schools, housing, or buildings of cultural or religious significance. They also observed that shops were closed.
The group observed that the Azerbaijani government was taking steps to revive healthcare services and specific utilities in the city.
The mission was unable to enter rural areas, but did not observe any indications of damage to farming infrastructure or livestock.
The objective was to travel along the Lachin road to reach the border crossing, a popular route used by more than 100,000 ethnic Armenians in recent times. They did not come across any civilian cars heading towards Armenia.
The group stated that it is challenging to ascertain whether the native community plans to come back, based on their discussions with them.
The statement added that it is necessary to establish trust and confidence, which will take time and effort from all parties involved.
The statement also urged for every possible measure to be taken in order to safeguard the rights of the community. It also stated that the United Nations mission in Azerbaijan is prepared to assist the remaining local residents and those who want to come back, in collaboration with the Azerbaijani government.
Situation in Armenia
The majority of refugees who came to Goris, a border town in Armenia, have now moved to different areas of the country.
According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), numerous individuals who sought safety in Armenia endured grueling journeys, frequently trekking for extended periods and seeking shelter in caves or basements, enduring harsh circumstances.
Joe Lowry, spokesperson for the International Organization for Migration (IOM), stated in an interview with UN News on Monday from Yerevan, Armenia that there have been reports of malnutrition, especially among older adults and children, as well as cases of high fevers and pneumonia.
Mental health prioritized
Working closely with the Armenian government, UN teams in the nation are placing a strong emphasis on providing mental health assistance to refugees. This past Monday, IOM launched two mobile clinics, and plans to open four additional ones in the near future.
The clinics will have qualified psychologists available to assist individuals with their urgent mental health and psychosocial concerns. They will also refer them to further treatment, if necessary, as stated by the spokesperson for UN News.
Other UN agencies also continue their response. On Monday, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) delivered vital medical supplies, including bandages, syringes and medications.
The UNFPA is providing hygiene kits to refugee women and girls in different areas of Armenia. They have also educated local partners on how to address gender-based violence and will establish safe areas for survivors to receive medical and mental health support.
With about 100,000 new people coming into a country that already has a population of around three million, there will be a notable need for the growth of public services. This will involve strengthening schools and healthcare centers.
According to Mr. Lowry, the demand for additional schools and school expansions will require construction of new buildings rather than simply adding more chairs to existing classrooms. The same applies for hospitals as well.
He stressed the importance of providing both economic support, such as employment opportunities, and new housing for the incoming individuals. Additionally, it is crucial to also provide assistance to the existing community.
The source of this information is the United Nations News website.