Politics, Europe

UN refugee agency says it has no reports of mistreatment of Armenians fleeing Karabakh

UNHCR representative in Armenia says nearly 89,000 refugees have arrived in Armenia in less than 1 week

Peter Kenny  | 30.09.2023 - Update : 30.09.2023
UN refugee agency says it has no reports of mistreatment of Armenians fleeing Karabakh


The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said Friday it has not received reports of maltreatment of Armenians fleeing Karabakh, noting nearly 89,000 have fled in one week.

Kavita Belani, UNHCR representative in Armenia, told a news conference that the refugee agency is deeply concerned by the rapidly evolving humanitarian emergency in Armenia, with more than 88,700 refugee arrivals in less than a week.

“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,” said Belani. “They have been living under blockade for the past nine months. They do not know what will happen to their fled homes and whether they will return.”

“There are no recorded incidences of mistreatment,” she said in response to an Anadolu question that asked if she was aware of reports of maltreatment of those fleeing Karabakh. “The long and the tiring journey, and the congestion is difficult for people. Nobody shared instances of being harassed.”

The UNHCR representative said people are anxious about what will happen to them now and worry about whether their children can 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,” said Belani.

She said the Armenian government is registering refugees at border registration centers, and there are around 10 additional humanitarian centers in other regions.

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

Relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia have been tense since 1991 when the Armenian military occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, a territory internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, and seven adjacent regions.

Azerbaijan liberated several cities, villages and settlements from Armenian occupation in the fall of 2020, during 44 days of fighting. The war ended with a Russia-brokered cease-fire.

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