New life with new documents for Azerbaijan refugee in Turkmenistan

Most refugees in Turkmenistan have been living there for decades. They learnt local languages, some established families and have de-facto integrated. Refugees have access to local schools and medical facilities. However, some, without valid legal documents, continue having difficulties with accessing their human rights such as registration of marriages, freedom of movement. UNHCR together with the Government of Turkmenistan continues looking for permanent solutions to remaining refugees in Turkmenistan, who have been living in protracted situation for years.

Andranik Avakyan was born in 1973 in Tug village in Azerbaijan. When he was only 16, he and his family had to flee his home country because of the warfare. Together with his parents Andranik moved to Russia. But they didn’t live there for a long time. A few year later Andranik’s father passed away. The mother decided to go to Ashgabat to live closer to her daughter, and later in 1993 Andranik moved there too. Turkmenistan became his new home.

In Turkmenistan Andranik found a job and got married. In 2003 he was granted a refugee status.

Though he had been living in Turkmenistan for a few years already, he still had problems with documents. For example, he could not officially register his marriage, he and his wife only performed a wedding ceremony in church. He also didn’t have residence permit.

In 2019 with the help from UNHCR Andranik received a certificate of a stateless person. This document has brought a lot of positive changes in the life of Andranik and his family. He could renew his driving license, which had been issued in the Soviet time. The stateless certificate also allowed him to get residence permit. But the most important development after receiving documents was that in February 2020 Andranik and his wife could finally legalize their marriage.