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More must be done to improve the lives of internally displaced persons in Armenia, says UN expert

GENEVA (20 September 2010) – “Internally displaced persons in Armenia have been forgotten for too long, more should be done to improve the lives of these people who have been displaced for two decades, and this needs a concerted effort by the Government and the international community”, said the Representative of the Secretary-General on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons, Walter Kaelin, at the end of a two-day visit to the country.

The Representative met with internally displaced persons from Artsvashen in the Dprabak village and the Chambarak town in the Gegharkurnik region. He noted with great concern that the displaced populations still face great problems in the area of their economic and social rights, suffering, in particular, from the lack of adequate housing and limited economic opportunities.

Mr. Kaelin noted with appreciation that many internally displaced persons in Armenia have well integrated into the communities where they have been displaced to. Nevertheless, a considerable number still live in difficult circumstances after two decades of displacement, while others have not been able to return to their homes in the border regions because of lack of shelter and livelihoods opportunities.

The Representative was encouraged by the Government’s envisaged measures to help the displaced return to border villages or to integrate in the villages they had been displaced to, and he urged the international community to support such efforts. Efforts should focus not only on housing, but also on improving social and economic conditions in the border regions, including opportunities for steady household incomes, quality education and prospects for the youth.

“Armenia is in the enviable position of being able to solve its remaining displacement cases and to be taken off the map of countries still hosting internally displaced persons. It is imperative that the international community supports the Government in its efforts.” At the same time, the Representative stressed that the parties to the conflict and the international community must strengthen their efforts to reach a peace agreement and ensure that any such agreement addresses the human rights of the displaced, including their right to restitution of property or compensation.

During the course of his visit, Mr. Kaelin met with Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the First Deputy Minister of Territorial Administration. He also met with the Ombudsman of Armenia, representatives of the international community and non-governmental organizations.

ENDS

Walter Kaelin, Professor of Law in Bern (Switzerland), has been the Representative of the Secretary-General on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons since 2004. This is his second visit to Armenia (17 and 18 September 2010) since 2007.

Learn more on the Representative’s mandate and activities: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/idp/index.htm

OHCHR Country Page – Armenia: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/ENACARegion/Pages/AMIndex.aspx

For further information or interview requests, please contact Catherine Phuong (Tel: +41 22 917 9271 / email: cphuong@ohchr.org) or write to idp@ohchr.org