Refugees in Armenia number 304 000 Says Ministry

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–A press conference at the Ministry of Social Security of Armenia on Tuesday was devoted to the Regional Conference of Commonwealth of Independent States and Baltic States held July 2-3 in Geneva.

The uncontrolled migration flow in the CIS and Baltic State countries following the break-up of the Soviet Union was the primary area of discussion during the conference.

The chief expert on refugee problems and migration for Armenia’s Territorial Department–Lyalia Aslanian–said that following the order of the UN General Assembly–the High Commissioner for Refugees organized the first Regional Conference of CIS and Baltic States on May 30-31–1996.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Bureau for Democracy and Human Rights adopted a program of actions suggesting that annual conferences be held in Geneva until the year 2000.

The head of the International Organization on Migration–Lida Kalyan–said that government programs on refugees and deportees are not effective due to the lack of funds. Funds for the improvement of the state of refugees and deportees are known to be provided by donor-countries.

The amount of funds to be assigned to Armenia has not yet been been determined. The Dutch government has allocated $497,382 to Armenia to help solve the problems of refugees and deportees. It should be noted that last year Georgia received $1,200,000–Armenia-$497,000 and Azerbaijan-$36,000.

Grisha Oganezov–Chairman of the "Ahazang" Armenian refugee organization–emphasized that the top-priority was to create jobs and build shelters for the refugees. According to Robert Melik-Pashayan–Chairman of "Veradardz Hayk" Society–to obtain housing–refugees have to sign a five-year contract. But due to unfavorable living conditions many of them leave the housing camps before the contract matures. Melik-Pashayan also said most of the 700,000 Armenia’s who left the Republic looking for jobs were refugees. Kalyan also mentioned that originally there had been 364,000 refugees in Armenia.

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