UNHCR Regional Director for Europe concludes visit to Armenia
This week, UNHCR’s Regional Director for Europe, Philippe Leclerc, concluded a four-day visit to Armenia, following the arrival of more than 100,000 refugees, half of them children and older people. He witnessed first-hand the humanitarian situation on the ground and reiterated the urgent need for funding support.
“I have been overwhelmed by the generosity of the Armenian Government and people. In such a short space of time, they have mobilized and shown incredible determination in welcoming and supporting refugees as much as they can, but they cannot be left alone,” said Leclerc.
“Urgent support is needed now and into the future, to strengthen the resilience of the population and to quickly enable refugees to be included in national systems, like the 15,000 children amongst 30,000, who are already registered in local schools,” he added.
During his visit he met with Armenian authorities who have been leading the response since the very beginning, including Deputy Prime Minister Mr. Tigran Khachatryan, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Vahe Gevorgyan, the Head of the Migration and Citizenship Service of the Ministry of Interior, Mr. Armen Ghazaryan, as well as the Governor of Syunik and the Deputy Mayor of Goris.
Leclerc also met and talked with refugees and the local families generously hosting them close to the capital city of Yerevan and in the towns of Kapan and Goris in Syunik province, where the majority of refugees initially arrived from Karabakh. They shared with him the shock they felt at having to flee their homes so quickly. They were physically and mentally exhausted and told him of the deep sense of loss and despair they felt in leaving everything behind.
“Our house was in a village, my father left me my home. Me and my nephew were engaged in agriculture, though both of us have disabilities. Now I just want to settle down. All I want is a place I can call home again”, said Lena, a 72-year-old refugee who is now staying in a temporary accommodation centre in Masis, Armenia.
A total of 16 UNHCR trucks carrying core relief items from UNHCR stockpiles have arrived in Armenia, carrying at least 10,000 items, such as foldable beds, mattresses, blankets, bed linen, pillows, solar camps, kitchen sets, and hygiene kits. UNHCR and partner Mission Armenia are distributing this humanitarian aid in coordination with regional and local authorities in Yerevan, as well as in Syunik, Vayots Dzor, Gegharkunik, Kotayk and Ararat provinces.
UNHCR, in close coordination with the Government, has also committed to support some 5,500 vulnerable refugees with cash assistance to cover rental costs and utilities during the upcoming harsh winter months.
On 7 October, in support to the Government of Armenia, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, with UN agencies and partners, launched the Armenia Emergency Refugee Response Plan, appealing for $97 million USD. A national launch event was held this week in Yerevan, bringing together Government and some 60 partners in a renewed appeal for support.
“I am calling once more on our generous donors to step-up to support this vulnerable population and the Government and people of Armenia. With more people displaced globally than ever before, we need to see renewed solidarity with those who are the most affected, and to ensure a better future for these people,” added Leclerc.
The UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, has been present in Armenia since December 1992. As part of the emergency response UNHCR is working with partners to assist the Government of Armenia in providing protection and assistance to refugees, particularly the most vulnerable, enabling them to address their immediate needs, with a particular focus on winterization and access to basic services. Under the leadership of the Government of Armenia, UNHCR is coordinating the inter-agency response of humanitarian organizations.
For more information, please contact:
- In Yerevan, Kiri Atri, [email protected]
- In Geneva, Louise Donovan, [email protected], +41 79 217 30 58
Armenia Emergency Refugee Response Plan
- Download the Armenia Emergency Refugee Response Plan