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31 December 2011
It was unknown how many people remained internally displaced due to armed conflict in Armenia at the end of 2011. Neither IDPs nor returned IDPs were persons of concern to UNHCR during the year. The last study to estimate the number of IDPs was undertaken in 2004. At that time, the Norwegian Refugee Council and Armenia’s State Migration Service found some 8,400 people still internally displaced as a result of the 1988-1994 war with Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh. During the war, at least 65,000 people had fled from Artsvashen, an Armenian exclave inside Azerbaijani territory, and from areas bordering Azerbaijan.
Most IDPs returned to their homes following the conflict, but the 2004 survey reported that some still had not returned to border areas because of the insecurity and the poor economic conditions, or to Artsvashen because the area had been taken over by Azerbaijani forces.
These IDPs’ prospects of a durable solution remain dim without government and international support and assistance or any resolution to this conflict.
While those who returned to border areas did not have trouble repossessing their homes, there were still no mechanisms to restore Artsvashen IDPs’ housing, land and property or provide them with compensation for damage and destruction. There were no remedies in place for violations of their rights which they had incurred in being displaced.
In 2011, IDPs received no targeted government or inter-national assistance. In March, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination urged the authorities to provide detailed information on their situation, including on their housing. By the end of the year, however, the government had still not secured funds for an IDP survey or a return programme. Nevertheless, it passed a decree at the end of the year to provide cash grants to IDPs from Artsvashen.
Some 20 years after the beginning of Armenia’s war with Azerbaijan and related violence, information on the remaining 8,400 people internally displaced is scarce. People internally displaced by the conflict have received hardly any government attention because other larger refugee and internally displaced groups have made competing demands on the state budget in a time of economic transition and crisis. International organisations have also largely neglected their plight. The low public profile and lack of registration and monitoring of these internally displaced people (IDPs) and returnees have made it difficult to estimate how many have achieved durable solutions.
IDPs and returnees face some of the same challenges as their non-displaced neighbours, and some face additional particular hardships including the loss of or damage to property, the unavailability of property restitution or compensation mechanisms, the inability to visit former homes and the continuing insecurity in border areas. (...)
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23 February 2010