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There are 100,000 incentives to provide aid: The United Nations' organization for migration is active in Armenia.
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There are 100,000 incentives to provide aid: The United Nations’ organization for migration is active in Armenia.

Goris, with a population of 20,000, is a charming town nestled in the high mountains of southern Armenia. It is located 25 kilometers away from the Lachin corridor, which serves as the border with Azerbaijan.

In late September, more than 100,000 Armenians of ethnic descent left the Karabakh area and reached Goris, Armenia. This required immediate humanitarian intervention from UN organizations and aid partners, in collaboration with the government.

Overnight, a disaster was averted as temporary shelters, movable kitchens, portable restrooms, clothing donations, hydration stations, medical facilities, recreational spaces, and a check-in location were quickly set up.

On the initial Monday in October, Goris returned to its peaceful state. All individuals had secured temporary housing. Around 40,000 individuals were placed in hotels and community centers by the Government, while the rest were hosted by relatives, acquaintances, and volunteers who were coordinated through social media efforts.

People fleeing Karabakh rest and receive humanitarian aid in Goris, Armenia, close to the border.

Individuals escaping from Karabakh find respite and obtain assistance from relief organizations in Goris, Armenia, near the border.

Problem solved? 

Actually, that is not the case. Currently, Armenia is confronted with the enormous task of incorporating these recent migrants. Manfred Profazi, the regional director of IOM, stated, “They will require housing, education, healthcare, employment – all of which we tend to assume as given.”

Mr. Profazi gave a speech following a three-day trip to Armenia, where he observed the initial launch of numerous mobile healthcare clinics that IOM is establishing throughout the nation. These clinics aim to provide for the physical and mental health requirements of the recent arrivals.

Mr. Profazi emphasized that these individuals did not have an easy journey. They have endured thirty years of both active and stagnant conflict, resulting in the loss of their homes, family history, and sense of community. They are facing exhaustion and trauma, particularly the vulnerable groups of children and the elderly. As the winter season nears, our aid efforts are quickly growing to assist them.

An IOM doctor examines a patient at the newly established mobile health clinic in Goris, Armenia.

© IOM/Joe Lowry

A doctor from IOM is conducting a check-up on a patient at the recently launched mobile health clinic in Goris, Armenia.

Each of the IOM’s mobile clinics is staffed with a psychiatrist and general practitioners (GPs). The GPs offer primary healthcare, diagnose issues, and make referrals, while the psychiatrists are available to identify and aid in reversing the trauma experienced by many.

They will assist individuals in understanding their present circumstances and encourage them to transition towards a stress-free future.

Psychological therapy

IOM Armenia’s project coordinator, Nune Asatryan, stated that the utilization of mobile health clinics will have a significant role in providing healthcare to at-risk individuals, particularly those living in isolated and rural areas.

Some 100,000 people have departed from the Karabakh region leaving behind property and other possessions.

Approximately 100,000 individuals have vacated the Karabakh area, abandoning their belongings and assets.

Ms. Asatryan stated that the psychologists in the mobile teams will provide support to refugees who have experienced multiple losses and are mourning for loved ones, familiar places, and their previous way of life. She believes that psychological therapy can enhance their overall mental well-being by equipping them with better coping mechanisms for personal struggles and alleviating their emotional pain and distress.

Interagency response

IOM is a member of the interagency team working on the comprehensive response plan, led by the Armenian Government.

Ilona Ter Minasyan, the IOM Head of Office in Armenia, stated that they will have involvement in multiple sectors.

In addition to the important tasks performed by the mobile clinics, there is also potential for IOM to assist with shelter, early recovery, and protection efforts. With many women at risk of being trafficked for sexual or other reasons, as well as facing gender-based violence, our organization’s extensive knowledge on sensitizing populations will be crucial in this situation,” stated Ms. Minasyan.

IOM’s assistance aims to have a lasting impact, providing both sustainable solutions and humanitarian aid. Essentially, it prioritizes being close and providing necessary aid in the locations where it is needed.

Gayane, who has not visited a doctor since she delivered her second daughter six years ago, encountered the clinic this morning but decided it was not necessary for her. An IOM outreach worker kindly offered to take care of her two daughters briefly while she had her appointment with the doctor.

Upon departing the clinic, she smiled as she was informed of her high blood pressure and advised to take medication and schedule regular check-ups.

In the upcoming months, IOM will provide assistance to thousands of additional Gayanes individuals, as well as other forms of aid to thousands more.

At the precise time and in the exact location that they require it.