Activity update on HIA’s assistance in Armenia
Hungarian Interchurch Aid, with the support of the Hungary Helps Program, is providing humanitarian aid in Armenia to civilians fleeing the armed conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh. HIA was one of the first INGOs to arrive on the scene, providing emergency assistance to families forced to flee their homes due to the conflict. Half of the population of Nagorno-Karabakh, some 75,000 people, have fled their former homes, for whom the organization is helping the crisis by distributing food, hygiene packages, clothing and NFIs.
The vast majority of the thousands fleeing armed conflict are families with many children. While some have found shelter, food and water through local authorities, relatives and friends, most families have nowhere to turn for help.
Over the past two weeks, an average of 400-600 refugees have arrived in Armenia per day, thus Armenian reception places have reached almost their full capacity. Most kindergartens and rural community buildings are currently used as shelters, despite not having enough beds or bathrooms, which exacerbates the situation of women and children. Many refugee families continue to live in fear, with sleep problems, especially children who have experienced severe trauma. As winter approaches, vulnerable families fleeing conflict are at serious risk in overcrowded shelters, especially due to the onset of winter and the rapid increase in COVID-19 cases. Immediate food aid, hygiene tools are needed, and psychosocial assistance is also important among traumatized families.
HIA is providing support to a total of 330 Armenian families who fled Nagorno-Karabakh. In response to the crisis, HIA contacted the ACT Alliance member, WCC Armenia Round Table Foundation (ART), and delegated a staff member on the ground. HIA is implementing the first phase of the program with the support of the Hungary Helps Programme. Within the project, in October and November, HIA and ART distributing food and hygiene packages in the governorates of Armavir, Ararat and Aragatsotn in Armenia. The families are receiving packages containing basic food and hygiene equipment along clothing and bedding equipment.
Between 25 and 26 October 2020, the HIA conducted an assessment in Goris and Tegh of the Syunik Governorate, the southernmost government in Armenia. As part of the assessment, HIA visited temporary shelters, local schools and kindergartens. The following situation emerged during the survey:
- Civilian population has fled due to the intensification of southern military operations, and there are examples of displacement within Armenia, mainly from Kapan, the largest city in the Syunik government.
- The cities of Goris and Tegh are considered transit zones for families fleeing Nagorno-Karabakh.
- The government has set up a humanitarian registration centre where displaced families can receive information.
- Temporary shelters need further upgrade considering COVID19 measures.
- There are more and more families who will not be able to return to their place of residence if the current situation remains.