Baku, Azerbaijan, Sept. 11
By Elena Kosolapova and Aygun Badalova - Trend:
Azerbaijan is a country with so many good examples of how to address the problems of refugees, says Dag Sigurdson, the representative of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Azerbaijan.
Speaking to Trend during another episode of the 'This Week in Focus' program, Sigurdson said Azerbaijan has a history that clearly reflects huge problems related to displacement of population.
"Azerbaijan is also example of a country that has tried to address this situation," he said, adding that hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons from Azerbaijan's occupied territories have been from the beginning on the top of the political agenda of the government of Azerbaijan.
"And there have been a lot of initiatives taken," said Sigurdson. "For example, the government of Azerbaijan granted citizenship to all the refugees that came from Armenia together with 50,000 Meskhetian Turks that had been drawn out of Central Asia."
"That is an example of how things should be done," he stressed, adding that all those people today enjoy absolutely equal rights as any other Azerbaijani citizen.
UNHCR's representative further said that the good experience of Azerbaijan can be used by other countries in both how they accommodate the needs of relatively small number of refugees from other countries and in taking care of large population of internally displaced people.
Sigurdson also said the UNHCR cooperates with the government of Azerbaijan, adding that there is an ongoing dialogue with the Azerbaijani State Committee for Affairs of Refugees and IDPs.
UNHCR representative further noted that he is very happy that Azerbaijan recognizes the demand for international solidarity and support in this issue.
"We are working closely with the government on trying to improve the situation of the internally displaced persons," Sigurdson said, further mentioning the projects for improvement of housing and employment for the IDPs.
"We also have a project where we provide free legal advice, where we have lawyers that IDPs can consult when they have a problem," he noted. "So we are trying to complement the government's efforts from different angles."
Sigurdson further said that the refugee problem is a million dollar question, which is on everybody's mind, especially after the widely circulated picture of a drowned Syrian child.
"This conflict [in Syria] has been going on for two years since 2011," he said. "We have also crisis in the neighboring Iraq and lot of new emergencies: Ukraine, Yemen, and all the forgotten crises that have been going on for decades: Afghanistan, Somalia. And now all this things come together."
He said that this year alone more than three thousands have lost their lives on trying to reach safety, adding that it is not a problem that can be solved a by a single country.
To learn more about the topic, check out the full episode below.