State of Refugees Improved in Armenia Says UNHCR Rep

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)– The interest of donor-countries in Armenia as a region that needs help is decreasing little by little–Tomas Birat–representative of the United National High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to Armenia–said during a news conference on Thursday.

Birat said that donor-countries had sponsored a number of social programs implemented by the UNHCR in Armenia worth a total of $20 million. The program concerned Armenia’s deported from Azerbaijan in the period of 1988-1991. Thus–under the "Shelter" program 2,000 families of refugees were provided with homes–another 400 families will be provided with homes by the end of the year. According to Birat–on the whole–the state of refugees improved in recent years. Therefore–UNHCR is still rendering assistance only to the most vulnerable categories of refugees–preferring such social groups as women and the elderly.

UNHCR is gradually passing from humanitarian programs onto developmental programs–in particular–programs of small business development that help solve the problem of unemployment among refugees. At the same time– Birat stressed that UNHCR cannot function satisfactorily without the assistance of the government–public organizations and broad sections of the population.

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