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UNHCR seeking urgent support for humanitarian emergency in Armenia

Briefing notes

UNHCR seeking urgent support for humanitarian emergency in Armenia

29 September 2023
Refugees wait at a distribution centre in Goris, a small border town in south-eastern Armenia.

Refugees wait at a distribution centre in Goris, a small town in south-eastern Armenia where tens of thousands of refugees have arrived in a matter of days.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is deeply concerned by the rapidly evolving humanitarian emergency in Armenia, with over 88,700 refugee arrivals in less than a week. Refugees are mainly arriving to the Syunik region in Southern Armenia.

The Government has assumed the responsibility of providing protection and assistance with the support of UNHCR and other UN agencies and NGOs.

UNHCR is leading the inter-agency refugee response, working with the UN Resident Coordinator’s Office. An inter-agency response plan is being finalized, to be followed by a joint financial appeal. It is important that the needs in the short term as well as the medium to long term are considered.

UNHCR teams have been on the ground and at the border since day one when the first groups of refugees arrived exhausted, frightened and apprehensive about the future. They have been living under blockade for the past nine months. They do not know what will happen to the homes they have fled and whether they will return.

They are anxious about what will happen to them now and worry about whether their children will be able to access education. Most arrived with very few belongings and require urgent emergency assistance, including blankets, bedding materials, medical and psychosocial support and shelter in the immediate term.

Refugees are being registered by the Government at registration centres at the border, while there are some ten additional humanitarian centres in other regions. In addition to registration, these centres offer immediate psychosocial support, snacks, play areas for children and information about accommodation and other assistance.

The authorities are providing temporary accommodation to new arrivals with no relatives in Armenia, including in hotels, social centres and schools. However, with such huge numbers of arrivals in a short time, additional emergency centres are urgently needed.

UNHCR is supporting the Government with technical equipment, including laptops and tablets, to facilitate registration and has provided essential core relief items such as foldable beds and mattresses for refugees, while more core relief items are on the way, arriving this weekend. UNHCR is also scaling up its presence on the ground.

While the Government is making consistent and commendable efforts to meet the rapidly growing needs with the support of the international community, additional financial support is needed. UNHCR urgently calls on the international donor community for solidarity and responsibility sharing to enable Armenia to respond to this unfolding humanitarian emergency. 

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