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After Karabakh war between Armenia and Azerbaijan, thousands of people were displaced from their homeland. In Baku 216 000 IDP, for Internally Displaced Person, were recensed, living in hostels, half-built buildings and other public places. One of those IDP,  Zarifa Aliyeva displaced from Jabrail lives now in student hostel with her family.

By Elvira Abdullayeva and Rena Allahverdiyeva

“If Jabrail were given back, I would go there barefoot”- says Zarifa Aliyeva, 60, displaced from Jabrail, a region in Azerbaijan. She lives in Baku State University’s student hostel with her family-husband, daughter, son, granddaughter and grandson. They live here together since 1993, date of the occupation of Jabrail.

Sixteen years ago, on 23rd August 1993, Azerbaijani regions of Fuzuli and Jabrail were occupied by Armenian Armed Forces. There were 72 secondary school buildings, eight hospitals, five mosques, two museums, 129 historical monuments and 149 cultural centers left in the occupation.

As Zarifa recalls, she used to live in the center of Jabrail, where her and her family had a big house with 6 rooms. But the day of the occupation, they couldn’t take even one cap from their house and had to leave immediatly.

During the Nagorno-Karabakh war (from February 1988 to May 1994) between Armenia and Azerbaijan territories, constituting former NKAO region of Azerbaijan and the seven adjacent regions (some of them partly) were occupied. As a result, about one million people had to leave their homes.

Azerbaijan now has one of the highest numbers of IDPs per capital in the world. The IDPs are presented in all of the 76 administrative districts in Azerbaijan. Initially, most of them lived in tent camps and public buildings such as schools, hostels, and dormitories.

Since 2001, the government increased its efforts to solve IDPs’ problems. In 2002, the construction of new settlements started in Baku, and by the end of 2007, all tent camps were abolished. On the 61 100 IDPs from the Jabrail region, nearly half of them, about 31 000, decided to settle in Baku.

“At first, we went to Sabirabad and lived there for three months, then we moved to Baku. And that time we didn’t know where to stay and came accidently to this hostel. At that time in this room were staying a young family displaced from Agdam region, but when they saw that we are six and haven’t any money, so they decided to leave this room for us and went to rent house”.

Zarifa Aliyeva is now working as a cleaner at the municipal concert hall, her husband works as gardener for a bank, although he had two operations on heart. Her daughter and son don’t work and her grandchildren are studying at school. They were baby when family displaced.

“With our salary and our pension, we get approximately 400-450 AZN per month. It is too little to compare it with our necessity. Our room is 15 m2 and we haven’t any other choice. It is already 20 years we are waiting to go back to our village, but there is not any result…We are just waiting.”

After war in May 1994, Armenia and Azerbaijan signed ceasefire and peace talks, mediated by the OSCE Minsk Group, have been held ever since by Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Parviz Asgarov is the responsible of Baku State University’s student hostel. He says that now there live 7 000 people- and around 750 familys and the Azéri government had accepted a new program moving them from hostels to new buildings. “We had listed to all people who live here and gave this list to the State Committee of the Republic of Azerbaijan On Deals of Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons. From 2012n IDPs will get new home. Now they have many problems here, rooms are very narrow, they have to sleep together in one room, most of them are unemployer”.

Student hostel of BSU

In Baku are living around 216 000 IDPs and they have placed in 262 hostels, 75 pansionat, 40 half-built buildings and other public places.

On February 2011, President signed a Decree on Additions to the “State Program on improvement of living conditions and increasing employment refugees and internally displaced persons”, approved by Decree 298 of the 1st of July, 2004 issued by the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan. The government is already organising the relocalisation 210 families of IDP’s, temporarily settled in 2 hostels out of Baku State University.

Although the Armenian Azerbaijani Nagorno Karabakh conflict still remains unsolved, EU president Herman van Rompuy thinks that this conflict mustn’t be added to the list of “hopeless conflicts“. In his reports, Peter Semneby – EU’s ex-special Representative for the South Caucasus also notes that “EU is now more intensively engaged in the South Caucasus than ever before“.

With the launch of the Eastern Partnership in May 2009 and the launch of the negotiations on the Association Agreements with the three countries of the South Caucasus. Nowadays, mediation efforts are made by a troïka consisting ofRussia,France and theUS, butRussia is increasingly taking a leading role, in particular through meetings of President Medvedev with the Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents.

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