Free utilities, EU aid – what help is flowing into Karabakh?
A number of programmes have been developed to assist those forced to leave their homes during the Second Karabakh War.
In total, since November 14, 2020, almost 30,000 people have already returned to their places of former residence. Buses with residents of Nagorno-Karabakh leave Yerevan for Stepanakert almost every day.
Many homes were damaged or destroyed during the hostilities that began on 27 September. However, the residents of Karabakh still return, hoping for help from the state and their efforts.
What kind of assistance is provided by the government of Armenia, the EU and what Karabakh residents say they need the most.
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Help from the government of Armenia
The fact that the residents of Karabakh who are temporarily in Armenia would receive financial assistance in the coming days was announced at a meeting of the Minister of Labor, Social and Housing Affairs of Karabakh Mikael Virabyan and Deputy Minister of Labor and Social Affairs of Armenia Smbat Sayan on November 8.
A week later, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan announced that the Armenian government would allocate 68,000 drams (approximately $140) to each Karabakh resident who moved to Armenia during the hostilities.
Moreover, children should also receive assistance, provided that at least one parent is registered in Karabakh.
An additional 15,000 drams (approximately $30) will be allocated to citizens who do not have their own real estate in Armenia. Those who have already returned to Karabakh will also be able to receive help. Applications for assistance will be accepted from 23 November.
The press service of the Ministry of Social Security and Labor of Armenia reports that the post offices of Armenia and Karabakh have already begun to pay financial assistance to the people of Karabakh.
On November 22, a second support program from the Armenian government was announced, according to which residents of the regions of Karabakh which came under the control of Azerbaijan, must receive a lump sum payment of 300,000 drams (approximately $600).
The state promises to help solve housing issues for these people within several years, and before that it will pay rent.
However, the beneficiaries of this programme can be residents of Karabakh, who for at least three months before the outbreak of hostilities (that is, until September 27) lived in these communities.
Funding for the programme will be provided by the Hayastan All-Armenian Fund, to which both residents of Armenia and the Armenian Diaspora have been transferring money throughout the war.
The problem is that the second aid programe has not yet been approved, the document has not yet been signed by the president. And many Karabakh residents who have lost their homes complain that they are forced to live with relatives or rent an apartment at their own expense.
For one year, the population will be able to use public utilities (gas, water, electricity) free of charge, as well as communication services (telephone and Internet) – “with reasonable limits.” The president of Nagorno-Karabakh announced the news on November 17.
The president also said the restoration of houses damaged as a result of shelling will begin in the coming days.
Also, financial support will be provided to families in need, whose income per member is below the threshold of the minimum consumer basket of 60,000 drams.
Help from EU countries
EU countries are already providing humanitarian aid to the residents of Karabakh, Armenian Deputy Foreign Minister Avet Adonts stated in early November:
“For example, Germany donated 2 million euros for support, other countries also provided assistance, but it is being channeled through the Red Cross. We offered to make this assistance more targeted and direct.”
The main thing, according to Deputy Minister Adonts, is to help them not only with food or warm clothes, but also to take comprehensive measures to assist them.
Since the beginning of the war, the very first people who extended a helping hand to the people of Karabakh were the residents of Yerevan and the Armenian diaspora. In parks, shops, theaters, cafes and restaurants in the Armenian capital, people organized collection points for the army and for women and children from Karabakh who moved to Yerevan after the outbreak of hostilities. They accepted everything – from food and water to baby carriages.
One of these humanitarian headquarters was located in the puppet theater in Yerevan. It began its work on the second day of the war, and closed only at the end of November.
During all this time, thanks to dozens of volunteers, more than 15,000 Karabakh families have received help from here alone, Anais Sardaryan, who led this process, said on her Instagram.