On World Refugee Day, ANCA-WR Urges UNHCR to Aid Displaced Armenians from Artsakh

June 20, 2023

By Sonia Meroian

On this solemn occasion of World Refugee Day, we stand united in honoring the unwavering resilience and indomitable endurance of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) across the globe. ANCA Western Region urges the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to fulfill its unequivocal humanitarian obligations toward the 30,000 Armenian refugees and IDPs who were forcibly displaced from Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) in the wake of the devastating 2020 Artsakh War.

At the conclusion of the 2020 conflict, which resulted in the ethnic cleansing of Armenians from their indigenous lands of Shushi and Hadrut, a trilateral statement was signed by the leaders of Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Russia to establish a ceasefire. In accordance with the seventh clause of that statement, it was agreed upon that “internally displaced persons and refugees shall return to the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh and adjacent areas under the supervision of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.”

But since then, the international community, including UNHCR, has not only failed to fulfill its obligations in accordance with the Refugee Convention and the terms of the trilateral statement by ensuring the return of the 20,000 Armenians to their homes in Hadrut and Shushi, but it has also failed to meet the urgent humanitarian needs of the 30,000 Artsakh refugees and IDPs who found refuge in the Republic of Armenia and the remnants of Artsakh.

Today, the international community continues to turn a blind eye to the looming threat of ethnic cleansing and genocide faced by the 120,000 Armenians who have been trapped in Artsakh since December 12, 2022 as a result of Azerbaijan’s illegal blockade of the Lachin Corridor. In a complete disregard to the order of the International Court of Justice to unblock the Lachin Corridor, Azerbaijan installed a check-point on the corridor in April 2023 and has been blocking the delivery of humanitarian aid by the International Committee of the Red Cross. This blockade has resulted in severe deprivation, with the affected Armenians reporting a dire lack of access to essential resources, crucial services, and urgently needed humanitarian aid.

The stories of the more than 30,000 Armenian refugees and IDPs who were forcibly uprooted from their homes during the 2020 Artsakh War stand as poignant reminders of the immense hardships faced by refugees and IDPs worldwide. These displaced individuals have been torn away from not only their physical homeland but also from the rich tapestry of memories, cultural traditions, and deep-rooted bonds that have shaped their lives in Artsakh for many generations. 

On this significant day, World Refugee Day, we emphasize the pressing need for unwavering international cooperation, compassion, and concerted efforts to alleviate the suffering endured by Armenian refugees and IDPs from Artsakh. We implore the UNHCR, USAID, the Biden Administration, and the entire international community to rise to the occasion and fulfill their moral and ethical responsibility toward the 30,000 Armenian refugees and IDPs from Artsakh, and the 120,000 Armenians amid Azerbaijan’s 190-day illegal blockade of the Lachin corridor. 

Sonia Meroian is a member of ANCA Western Region’s 2023 Summer Internship Program. She recently graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and a concentration in International Relations. Her primary research interests include the study of international conflicts and the use of explosive weapons in populated areas (EWIPA).

For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Sarkis Balkhian
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Armenian National Committee of America - Western Region
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