UNHCR Head Says Refugee Conditions Stabilizing

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–"Refugees’ life in Armenia is becoming stable–and to overcome the existing problems much can be done both in the aspect of credits and in the implementation of various programs," UN High Commissioner for Refugees Sadako Ogata told Noyan Tapan.

During her visit to Armenia Ogata will get acquainted with the quality of life of refugees–and with activities of the UNHCR Armenian Office. The High Commissioner visited the village of Sis–in the Ararat region Friday. Ogata became acquainted with the refugees’ living conditions–their social problems and participated in a ceremony of issuing passports of the Republic of Armenia to 100 refugees living in the village.

Chairwoman of the village community Elvira Ovanesova said that during the past ten years "people established roots and drew the conclusion that it is necessary for them to become Armenian citizens."

"I congratulate you on the beginning of a new life–it is most important that you are becoming part of society," the High Commissioner told those present. She pointed out that the UNHCR will render assistance to the village in improving living conditions–in particular–the problem of drinking water will be resolved.

Ogata also visited the Shirak community center where refugees from Azerbaijan reside.

According to the data provided by the UNHCR Armenia Office–more than 310,000 refugees are currently living in Armenia–60,000 of them temporarily left the country; 14,000 families need accommodation. By the end of 1998 more than 6,000 refugees were granted Armenian citizenship.

Ogata arrived in Armenian Wednesday. She will leave for Tbilisi Saturday and later will visit Azerbaijan.

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