U.N. World Food Program cuts aid to refugees in Azerbaijan

U.N. World Food Program cuts aid to refugees in Azerbaijan

AP Worldstream
Oct 12, 2004

The United Nations said Tuesday it was cutting its food aid program for
tens of thousands of Azerbaijanis displaced by the Nagorno-Karabakh
conflict, a move government officials and rights groups warned would
worsen the plight of refugees.

Due to scarce funding, the U.N. World Food Program is forced to halve
the ration of wheat flour it is providing to nearly 145,000 people
displaced from Nagorno-Karabakh, it said in a news release.

Nagorno-Karabakh is an enclave in Azerbaijan that has been under
ethnic Armenian control since 1994, when a cease-fire ended a six-year
war that killed some 30,000 people and drove a million from their
homes. No permanent settlement has been reached in the conflict.

“This harsh measure is unavoidable and could have serious implications,
especially with winter coming, when food aid rations are most needed,”
the U.N. statement said.

Officials in Baku expressed concern over the decision.

“Cutting the U.N. food program will have a pernicious effect on
Azerbaijani refugees,” a government official told The Associated
Press on condition of anonymity.

“We believe that until people return to their native lands, this
U.N. program should continue running in full,” the official said.

Shargiya Dadasheva, head of Azerbaijan’s Society for Helping Refugees
and Internally Displaced People, lamented the move.

“This will make the lives of refugees and internally displaced people
even harder, since many of them, having no job and owning no land,
are forced to live only on that aid,” Dadasheva said.