USAID Reports on Needs of Karabakh

WASHINGTON–The US Agency for International Development has released a report outlining the humanitarian needs of victims of the Karabakh conflict and making specific proposals for aid projects in the region reported the Armenian National Committee of America.

"This report calls attention to a number of important issues but ultimately falls short of addressing the full scope of the pressing humanitarian and developmental needs in Nagorno-Karabakh," said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian.

"After close to six months of inaction on this matter–we were pleased to hear USAID Administrator Brian Atwood testify before Congress that the Administration is ready to implement childhood immunization and is considering shelter projects in Karabakh. We remain troubled–however–by the slow pace of implementation and the efforts by some in the Administration to divert funds allocated by Congress from their intended purpose," he added.

The 47 page report–Humanitarian Needs Evaluation for Victims of the Nagorno Karabakh Conflict–was prepared by a team of experts who traveled to the region on a two week USAID-commissioned fact- finding mission in January of this year. The text of the "Executive Summary" is printed below:

Humanitarian Needs Evaluation for Victims of the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict January 18-30–1998

Kirsti Lattu–David Garner–Dennis Culkin Prepared under contract to the USAID Bureau of Europe and New Independent States.

Executive Summary Across the southern Caucasus region–encompassing Armenia and Azerbaijan (including the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh)–there is no acute and widespread humanitarian crisis affecting the victims of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The situation of those affected by the conflict has generally stabilized with respect to food–security–shelter–and medical services. While problem areas clearly remain and some groups are in need of continuing relief assistance–the general assistance is evolving such that improving shelters and generating income producing activities may be the useful areas for intervention.

Armenia There is no acute humanitarian crisis in Armenia among victims of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Conflict victims are affected by the same impoverishment suffered by the majority of the general population–although in many cases they endure inferior shelter conditions. A significant number of refugees of urban origin face challenges in the rural settings where they have been relocated. Conflict victims–whether classified as refugees or Nagorno-Karabakh Armenian–suffer legal status problems. Non-displaced Armenia’s residing in the districts along the northern border with Azerbaijan continue to be directly affected by the conflict–as cross-border hostilities have reportedly compounded the challenges posed by inherently limited economic opportunities and lack of central government assistance. Somewhere between 2,000 to 5,000 families from Nagorno-Karabakh remain in Armenia–awaiting the rehabilitation of suitable shelter which would allow them to return home.

Recommendations

1. Review conditions in the northern border districts to determine whether additional humanitarian assistance is called for.

2. Review shelter conditions and assistance for refugees to determine whether adequate resources are available for critical needs.

Nagorno-Karabakh

There is no acute humanitarian crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh. The region’s small population (estimated to be near 130,000) includes limited numbers of potentially vulnerable people (+/- 5,000)–principally those in the most seriously damaged conflict areas–some elderly without family–and large families without a breadwinner. The least well-off unemployed in urban areas are another potentially vulnerable group–although no evidence of systematic need has yet been found. There is a strong local administration which appears to be well connected to the needs of the community.

Recommendations

Humanitarian assistance effort to Nagorno-Karabakh should: 1. Focus on rehabilitation of damaged shelter to allow return of displaced persons. 2. Assess the existing immunization program–logistics and long-term vaccination supply. 3. Increase health awareness especially around Maternal Child Health (MCH) issues and make health education and medical resource materials available at different levels within the health system. 4. Support ICRC initiatives to train medical personnel in appropriate strategies for long-term home care. 5.Support efforts to re-train warehouse managers in pharmaceutical distribution–storage–and pro-active planning to meet seasonal changes in demand. 6. Support ICRC’s medical assessment of the current health status for the whole population–and train health care workers in use of medicines and implementation of protocols. 7.Support the establishment of a comprehensive system of psycho-social or psychiatric care–capacity building among local practitioners–and introduction of "new" out-patient or community based methods such as work therapy. 8. Support small scale enterprise and agricultural production activities to improve the economic condition of those most affected by the conflict.

Azerbaijan

There is no acute humanitarian crisis in Azerbaijan among victims of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Conflict victims are affected by the same impoverishment suffered by the majority of the general population–although in most cases they endure inferior shelter conditions. Azeris residing in the districts along the northern border with Armenia continue to be directly affected by the conflict–as cross-border hostilities have reportedly compounded the challenges posed by inherently limited economic opportunities and lack of central government assistance. Some 600,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in varying conditions and with varying capacities to provide for themselves–remain a serious economic and serious burden on a country struggling with post-Soviet economic deterioration.

Recommendations 1. Review conditions in the northern border districts to determine whether additional humanitarian assistance is called for to the most vulnerable in those areas. 2. Give priority to improving shelter conditions for IDPs. 3. Continue support for pilot income-generating activities that enable families–inter alia –to pay for health care services. 4. Support wider dissemination of health educational and medical resource materials such as MSF standard medical protocols in Russian–IRC’s Azeri translation of "Where There is No Doctor" and other USAID supported publications on MCH including breast feeding–immunization–and safe motherhood. 5. Increase support from the international community to implement WHO protocols for communicable diseases such as TB and malaria.

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