UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is deeply concerned about the increasing number of refugees fleeing into Armenia in recent days. UNHCR is calling for the protection of civilians and full respect of international humanitarian and refugee law.
As of this afternoon, the Government of the Republic of Armenia reported that some 19,000 people had fled to Armenia since 23 September. The number has more than tripled since yesterday, with long queues reported at the borders.
The majority of those arriving are vulnerable, including mainly older people, women, and children. People arriving at the borders are exhausted and require urgent emergency assistance, as well as psychosocial support. With freezing temperatures at night and limited accommodation, emergency shelter support is urgently needed.
“This decades-long conflict, which has flared up again, has displaced many thousands of people,” said Filippo Grandi, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. “Our teams are on the ground, trying to provide immediate assistance. We need to make sure civilians are protected and humanitarian assistance can reach those in need.”
The Government of Armenia is setting up coordination structures, with the support of UNHCR and UN partners. UNHCR is also co-leading the inter-agency contingency and response plan with the Office of the UN Resident Coordinator to support the Government response.
UNHCR has provided non-food items such as foldable beds and mattresses for new arrivals, while further items are being prepared and pre-positioned as the needs continue to increase.
The Government has established several registration points for new arrivals in the south-eastern provinces of Syunik and Gegharkunik, from where protection and assistance needs are also being assessed. UNHCR is providing technical support.
UNHCR reiterates its call to refrain from actions that would cause further displacement of civilians and to ensure their safety, security, and human rights. Nobody should be forced to flee their home.