Azerbaijan: After some 20 years, IDPs still face barriers to self-reliance
Agdam region. Children playing in camp for displaced persons.(Photo: CICR/HOFFMAN, Brendan)
Download Europe Overview
31 December 2012
Up to 600,000 people were internally displaced in Azerbaijan as of the end of 2012. They fled their homes between 1988 and 1994 as a result of the armed conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. By the time a ceasefire agreement was signed, an estimated 30,000 people had been killed and more than 700,000 internally displaced. In the continued absence of a comprehensive resolution to the conflict, Azerbaijan does not have effective control over Nagorno-Karabakh and the seven surrounding districts, and for the large part IDPs continue to be prevented from returning to their homes.
The government of Azerbaijan, aided by its increasing oil wealth, has spent $4.4 billion on refugees and IDPs and settled more than 140,000 in newly built homes as part of a national programme launched in 2004. More than 10,000 IDPs were settled in new housing during 2012, including on the outskirts of the capital Baku. Most settlements included new schools, and medical and community centres.
IDPs also continued to benefit from positive discrimination measures such as a monthly allowance, exemption from utility payments and preferential access to state jobs. The government also continued to build protective walls to shield IDPs and others living near the ceasefire line from stray bullets from continuing sporadic clashes.
New homes have improved the living conditions of many resettled IDPs, but some have reported problems such as sinking foundations, poor plumbing, leaking roofs and limited access to land suitable for farming. Some settlements are in remote locations with few opportunities to earn an income, only limited health care services and a lack of public transport links. Resettled IDPs also have inadequate legal tenure security. According to the government, IDPs were involved in decision-making about their new housing, but some stated that they had not been consulted and would have liked to have contributed their savings in order to acquire a larger home to accommodate their growing families.
The majority of IDPs are yet to benefit from government housing assistance. More than 400,000 continue to live in dilapidated, crowded and unsanitary collective centres such as former hostels, schools, kindergartens and sanatoriums. Around 6,000 IDPs occupy housing owned by others often without paying rent, and the government is preparing housing solutions for this group. An unknown number live in makeshift accommodation
such as railway carriages and mud houses, where health and other problems associated with poor living conditions are commonplace. The remainder live in housing they have bought or built on their own.
Quotas intended to improve IDPs' job prospects have proved less than effective and most IDPs are officially unemployed. Most of their income consists of government transfers and remittances from relatives working abroad. That said, it is assumed that many work as day labourers, taxi drivers or in other non-registered jobs. IDPs express the wish to diversify their income sources, but limited social networks, risk aversion, persistent indebtedness and prolonged economic inactivity among women stand in the way of their doing so.
IDPs are poorer than the general population, and their poverty has a number of consequences. In some cases health conditions have gone untreated, while in others children have taken up work in order to supplement the family income and their school attendance has often suffered as a result.
The situation of IDPs continues to be monitored by human rights mechanisms. In 2012 the UN's Committee for the Rights of the Child noted an increased allocation of funding to address the needs of internally displaced children. It also recommended that the state include mandatory modules on human rights in the school curriculum and introduce training programmes for all professionals working with or for internally displaced children. International organisations continue to assist IDPs, though funding has decreased as Azerbaijan has become a middle-income country.
More than 20 years since their displacement, IDPs continue to face significant obstacles in their efforts to achieve durable solutions. These include restricted freedom of movement and choice of residence, substandard living conditions, limited access to livelihoods and self-reliance, inability to stand for public office in their places of displacement, problems in accessing personal and other documentation and a lack of remedies for displacement-related violations. IDPs also continue to be excluded from decision-making processes that affect their lives, meaning that their needs, rights and interests do not fully guide policies and decisions intended to address displacement.
Over 586,000 people remain internally displaced in Azerbaijan after the Nagorno-Karabakh war ended with a ceasefire in 1994. The figure includes approximately 230,000 children born to internally displaced people (IDPs) since they fled their homes. Insecurity near the line of contact with Armenia continues to disrupt the livelihoods of IDPs and others who live nearby.
IDPs’ main concern, however, is their inadequate living conditions. Many still live in dilapidated public buildings and makeshift accommodation, some with poor security of tenure. The government has resettled some IDPs into new, purpose-built settlements, but while these offer better conditions, they are often far from neighbouring towns and offer insufficient access to services, jobs or livelihoods. Most IDPs have yet to benefit from this scheme and there is increasing disparity in the living conditions of IDPs. (...)
Download full Overview
10 December 2010
||Azerbaijan: After some 20 years, IDPs still face barriers to self-reliance (10 December 2010) HTML | PDF
||Азербайджан: по прошествии почти 20 лет ВПЛ все еще сталкиваются с барьерами на пути к самообеспечению (10 декабря 2010 г.) HTML | PDF
Internal Displacement Profile
"Резюме профиля на русском языке","Резюме профиля на русском языке"
"Background and Causes of Displacement","Background on displacement","Causes of displacement"
"IDP Population Figures and Locations","Figures of IDPs","Location of IDPs"
"IDP Population Movements and Patterns","Patterns of displacement and settlement"
"Physical Security & Freedom of Movement","Physical security","dignity","mental and moral integrity","Liberty and freedom of movement"
"Basic Necessities of Life","Food and water","Housing and shelter","Medical care"
"Property, Livelihoods, Education and Other Economic, Social and Cultural Rights","Property","Livelihoods","Education"
"Family Life, Participation, Access to Justice and Other Civil and Political Rights","Family Life","Documentation and citizenship of IDPs","Elections and public participation of IDPs","Access to Justice"
"Protection of Special Categories of IDPs (Age, Gender, Diversity)","Protection of Special Categories of IDPs (Age","Gender","Diversity)"
"Durable Solutions (Return, Local Integration, Settlement Elsewhere in the Country)","Return","Local Integration","Settlement elsewhere in the country"
"National and International Response","National response","International Response"
Previous Profile updates
- Key Documents
- Tackling Azerbaijan's IDP Burden, International Crisis Group (ICG), 27 February 2012
- Can you be an IDP for twenty years? A comparative field study on the protection needs and attitudes towards displacement among IDPs and host communities in Azerbaijan, Brookings-LSE Project on Internal Displacement, 30 December 2011
- Report of the Respresentative of the Secretary-General on the human rights of internally displaced persons, Walter Kalin, Follow-up to the visit to Azerbaijan in 2007, United Nations Representative of the Secretary-General on Internally Displaced Persons (UNRSG), 23 December 2010
- IASC Framework on Durable Solutions for Internally Displaced Persons, Brookings-Bern Project on Internal Displacement, 30 April 2010
- Living Conditions Assessment Report, World Bank (WB), March 2010
- Azerbaijan: Analysis of Gaps in the Protection of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), 30 October 2009
- Recommendation 1877 (2009), Council of Europe (COE), Parliamentary Assembly, 24 June 2009
- Europe’s forgotten people: protecting the human rights of long-term displaced persons , Doc. 11942, Council of Europe (COE), Parliamentary Assembly, 8 June 2009
- Additions to the Decree №298 “State Program on the Improvement of Living Conditions of Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons and Employment Promotion” of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan on 1 July 2004, Government of Azerbaijan, 31 October 2007