Impossible to forget problems of azerbaijani refugees

Years pass, but the problem still remains - problem of million Azerbaijani refugees and internally displaced persons. Of course, for more than ten years, the government and international donors have helped these layers of society both morally and materially. As known, currently no tent camp has left in the country. Houses were built and land plots were provided for them. But for most of them, returning to their native land and finding peace in their homes remains a big wound in their hearts.

It is no wonder that the refugees and internally displaced persons are in the ranks of the disadvantaged and vulnerable segments of society. They need help, and the more it is important to remind the world about the problems of citizens who were forced to leave their homes. It is necessary to remind about the problems of these people, and in the broad sense - to assist in returning these people to their native lands.

The international community has played a certain role in the beginning of this process, but over recent years, these advances are the exclusive merits of Azerbaijan. Since 1999, Azerbaijan has been providing the citizenship status for refugees and internally displaced persons in accordance with the UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees. For this reason, most of the refugees in Azerbaijan were removed from the list of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

United Nations High Commissioner explains it in this way: the refugees received citizenship, and therefore the Azerbaijani government must provide them. But in Azerbaijan, even if the privileges are eliminated, it would not mean that they will lose their refugee status. They will have this status unless they return to their homes.

Today, all the needs of this category of citizens are covered by the government. According to the data provided by the State Committee for Refugees and IDPs of Azerbaijan, for 16 years, the government of Azerbaijan has spent $2 billion on refugees and internally displaced persons. In accordance with the State Program for improvement of living conditions and poverty reduction for refugees and internally displaced persons, the last tent camp was closed in December 2007. Since 2001, the government has fully resettled about 90,000 internally displaced persons from the worst conditions to 49 new settlements.

Funds for this construction and rehabilitation works were transferred from the State Oil Fund of Azerbaijan (SOFAR). Thus, in 2008 SOFAR allocated 145 million manat for the needs of refugees compared to 124 million manat in 2007 and 110 million manat in 2006. SOFAR's funds for refugees and internally displaced persons have been spent on building more than 15,000 houses, 35 schools and other necessary facilities.

For 16 years, international organizations spent $759 million in this regard. Of these funds, $200 million accounted for the UN, $360 million - non-governmental organizations of the USA and the rest - foreign countries.

The 2009 Public budget of Azerbaijan will provide 199.6 million manat to address the problems of refugees and internally displaced persons. Main part of these funds will be directed towards the payment of monthly allowances for expenditure on food for refugees. In order to ensure transparency, the payment of monthly expenditure on food for 128,520 IDP families is carried out through plastic cards through the ATM.

Despite these measures, still nearly half of the refugees and internally displaced persons continue living in harsh conditions, and therefore the government of Azerbaijan should continue its efforts towards improving the lives of this population, as well as taking measures to improve the legal support of internally displaced persons and ensure their access to qualitative education and health care.

Homes, settlements, small towns provided today would be convenient and comfortable as they are temporary housing, and which are the property of the State Committee for Refugees and IDPs. Together with international financial institutions, UN agencies, international humanitarian organizations, the government is working on a draft program "Great repatriation" ("Great Return").

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