UNHCR Global Appeal 1999 - Azerbaijan

UNHCR Fundraising Reports, 1 December 1998

Basic Facts

What we do

Support the Government of Azerbaijan in providing shelter and support self-reliance among the refugees and internally displaced people, pending their return to their areas of origin. This strategy, implemented through competent Government authorities and international and national NGOs, assists as many as 150,000 internally displaced persons and refugees.

Who we help

Some 620,000 internally displaced persons in Azerbaijan, 180,000 ethnic Azeri refugees from Armenia, 45,000 Meskhetian Turk refugees from Uzbekistan and asylum-seekers from outside the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) seeking protection and assistance.

Our requirements

US$ 12,742,538

Our offices

Baku.

Our partners

Relief International (RI), International Rescue Committee (IRC), Adventist Development And Relief Agency (ADRA), Hayat International (HI), Children's Aid Direct (CAD), Mercy Corps International (MCI), Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), Danish Refugee Council (DRC).

Background

Nearly one out of every eight persons in the Azerbaijan is either internally displaced or a refugee. This uprooted population includes: some 620,000 internally displaced persons who fled the western parts of the Azerbaijani territory between 1991 and 1994, when the area was under military occupation as a result of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict; 198,000 ethnic Azeri refugees who left Armenia between 1988 and 1991; and 45,000 Meskhetian Turks, who had been deported from Georgia to Central Asia under Stalin's rule, and then fled Uzbekistan as a result of communal violence in 1988. Over the past four years, some 60,000 displaced persons were able to return to their former homes in war-damaged regions along the Nagorno-Karabakh front line; most of the displaced population lives in very poor conditions. More than 50 per cent of that population is accommodated in temporary settlements and dilapidated public buildings. Despite efforts by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group, there is still no political resolution to the question of Nagorno-Karabakh. Both parties to the conflict, however, have repeatedly expressed their support of the cease-fire and settlement through negotiations.

Throughout 1997 and 1998, more than 200 asylum-seekers originating from non-CIS countries, such as Afghanistan, Iraq and the Islamic Republic of Iran, approached UNHCR's Baku Office requesting assistance.

Protection and Solutions

Given the slowness of the conflict-negotiation process between the parties to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and the extent of damages in the occupied Azerbaijani regions, an early return of the displaced population is unlikely. UNHCR is active in promoting legal reforms in Azerbaijan, with the aim of developing domestic legislation that reflects international legal instruments and accepted norms, particularly in the areas of refugee protection, reduction of statelessness and national NGOs. A draft law on citizenship, which incorporates UNHCR's comments, was approved by the Azerbaijani Parliament in September 1998. A law on refugee status, which includes asylum and non-discrimination provisions, has been jointly drafted by UNHCR and government legal departments for submission to the legislative body. UNHCR supports specifically targeted training seminars for government officials on refugee law and refugee status determination procedures. In cooperation with the Council of Europe and the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), UNHCR will continue organizing seminars on statelessness and NGO legislation standards. Pending the adoption of the new law on refugees and asylum, UNHCR will continue to conduct refugee status determination procedures for asylum-seekers originating from countries outside the CIS.

In agreement with the Azerbaijani Government and in keeping with an agreed inter-agency framework on the issue, UNHCR is promoting self-reliance among the internally displaced and refugee populations. The agency is doing so in coordination with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Bank within the framework of an International Advisory Group (IAG). The IAG was established to support a government programme to reintegrate internally displaced persons who are returning to accessible, though war-damaged, areas along the front line.

Assistance

The UNHCR programme in Azerbaijan has shifted from an emergency relief operation, begun in 1993, to medium-term planned assistance geared towards self-reliance. In 1999, the programme will provide material assistance to targeted refugees and internally displaced communities to help them become self-reliant.

Shelter

In 1999, UNHCR will continue addressing the housing needs of refugees and internally displaced persons, focusing on communities with potential for self-reliance and those individuals who cannot return home in the foreseeable future. The shelter strategy which calls for appropriate, low-cost, long-term and quality housing will be complemented by activities in the areas of health, social services, education and income-generation activities. UNHCR will pool resources with other international organizations and NGOs whenever possible to provide assistance packages for community development. Emphasis will be placed on skills and vocational training, crop production, animal husbandry and other income-generating activities. In 1999, UNHCR and UNDP will work with the Ministry of Labour to assess various job- creation schemes that could benefit local populations as well as internally displaced persons in selected locations.

Joint Reintegration and Reconstruction Project

UNHCR also supports a shelter project for displaced persons returning to war-torn areas in the west of the country. The agency, together with the World Bank and UNDP, assists the Government in implementing its two-year reintegration and reconstruction programme which is designed to facilitate the return of some 36,000 displaced persons to their areas of origin in a safe, voluntary and sustainable manner. The programme provides an integrated package of cost-effective physical and social infrastructure and income-generating activities for those returning, as well as for several thousand people who have already returned and about 250,000 persons who remained in the war-damaged areas. The cornerstone of the programme is the shelter sector for which UNHCR has been asked to assume the lead role and, in cooperation with the other partners, design a strategic framework. In 1998, UNHCR launched an appeal for US$ 5.5 million to finance the project. Due to lack of funding, start of the project was delayed until October 1998. But some 2,000 households in Terter, Agdam and Fiozuli Districts were provided with basic housing. To benefit the largest number of people in the shortest amount of time, the project focuses on constructing basic replacement housing and distributing construction materials. Technical advice for self-help repair of damaged homes is also provided and asbestos debris is removed.

Another US$ 6.5 million is required for the project for the first part of 1999. Subject to a World Bank/UNHCR evaluation of the project's first phase, to be conducted in early 1999, a request for additional funds will be issued during the second half of 1999.

Refugee Women and Children

UNHCR will continue its special services for refugee women and children, implemented in cooperation with several NGOs. Activities in the fields of reproductive health, obstetrics, and post-natal care form a large part of this special assistance. Other projects include small crop production, vegetable gardening and livestock breeding. In recent years a large number of child-care facilities and pre-schools have been established which, in addition to providing care for children, offer mothers an opportunity to participate in income-generating and health-related educational activities.

Coordination

UNHCR promotes inter-agency coordination with the aim of facilitating information sharing, harmonizing agendas, and reaching consensus over needs assessments and assistance strategies. The coordination process intensified following the joint UNHCR/World Bank Appraisal Mission and the subsequent International Advisory Group meeting concerning the government proposal for a comprehensive programme of rehabilitation and reconstruction of war-damaged areas. UNHCR organizes regular working-level meetings to formulate a joint plan of action for the reintegration of returnees in 1999. In addition, UNHCR has proposed the creation of an informal group to help develop national NGOs. Four NGO resource centres in Baku participate in this group, which is financed by, among others, UNDP, USAID and IOM.

Budget US$

ActivitiesGeneral ProgrammesSpecial Programmes
Transport/Logistics84,146
Domestic Needs/Household Support52,836
Water Supply25,026
Sanitation102,630
Health/Nutrition645,743
Shelter/Other Infrastructures*6,901,054
Community Services171,027
Education795,352
Crop Production314,712
Livestock/Animal Husbandry243,228
Forestry10,000
Income-Generation358,638
Legal Assistance/Protection150,00062,000
Agency Operational Support1,686,908
Programme Delivery Costs**177,700782,529
Sub-TOTAL327,70012,235,829
Administrative Support179,009
TOTAL327,70012,414,838
TOTAL GP + SP12,742,538

* Includes the joint UNHCR/UNDP/World Bank Reintegration and Reconstruction Project described on page 230.

** Includes costs for protection, monitoring and coordination.