On September 19, Azerbaijan launched a military offensive against the Nagorna-Karabakh enclave – with a population largely made up of Armenians – causing the mass exodus of around 100,000 people into Armenia. In order to help people who are already very vulnerable after months of blockades, Fondation de France launched a call for funds, in partnership with France Télévision on October 3. To date, 400,000 euros has been raised.
The objectives of the appeal for donations were to help the most vulnerable people as a priority, to address unmet needs, and contribute to the integration of refugees over the long term. The same modus operandi was applied once again, with support for organizations best placed to identify priorities and take effective action.
In October 10-14, a first field mission was carried out by members of the Fondation de France International Emergency Team in the Syunik region, particularly in Goris, a border town located southeast of Armenia. This represents the main transit point for people from Nagorna Karabakh forced into exile. The aim of the mission was to meet local partners and evaluate needs and priority actions.
“Displaced populations are mostly from a rural background. There are families, elderly people and around 30,000 children,” explains Ingrid Hardouin, in charge of the International Emergency Program. “Thanks to the solidarity of the Armenian civil society and the measures implemented by the government, the vast majority were able to access accommodation and food and care was also being provided in the short term. Fondation de France’s work was therefore to focus on medium- and long-term support, so that displaced people could build a new life and be integrated in their new home,” she added.
On site, faced with the lack of public infrastructure and housing, many people were welcomed into rural communities in the Syunik region, which are themselves in highly precarious and vulnerable situations.
As a result, Fondation de France has set out the following priorities:
- provide refugees in rural areas with the means to grow produce for food, thanks to training, the allocation of agricultural equipment and seeds, thus contributing to self-sufficiency;
- promote job placement for those displaced, especially in Erevan, the capital of Armenia. For example, by supporting new professional activities and trade or by encouraging access to training programs. Special attention will be paid to women;
- provide psychological support to displaced persons. The idea is to raise awareness of post-traumatic symptoms and reinforce the teams of professional health workers able to monitor these symptoms by creating mobile clinics, especially in rural areas.
Contact has been made with partners already on the ground. They include: the Union Générale Arménienne de Bienfaisance (UGAB), the largest charity throughout the global Armenian diaspora, the Fonds Arménien de France, which has worked for the people of Armenia and Karabakh for the past 30 years, Médecins du Monde, currently providing humanitarian aid to displaced people and plans to set up mental health consultations, as well as Women Fund Armenia, which is active in defending the rights of women and girls in Armenia.
Photo : © Alain Jocard/AFP
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