New settlers in Armenian-controlled regions drag out miserableexiste


Feb 16 2005

YEREVAN, FEBRUARY 15, ARMENPRESS: Bernard Fassier, the French
co-chairman of the OSCE Minsk group, was the first to share what he
saw during an inspection visit to several Armenian-controlled regions
of Azerbaijan, surrounding Nagorno Karabagh to check Azerbaijani
allegations that they are being populated illegally by Armenians.

In an interview with RFE/RL Fassier said: “My impression is that
we do not have to deal with a large-scale resettlement plan. The
only exception was Lachin region, which is supported and funded. In
other regions the impression was that 80-90 percent of new settlers
came there at their own, or with the support of non-governmental
organizations or the Armenian Diaspora.”

Fassier said his impression is that new settlers could be divided into
three groups. The first and biggest group are Armenian refugees who
escaped pogroms in Azerbaijan in 1988, the second group consists of
Armenians who had to leave their destroyed homes in the 1988 earthquake
and the last groups are those who moved there from Armenia because
of economic hardships they faced in Armenia.

He said there are also people who live in these territories for
several months a year to pasture their cattle there in winter months
which are warmer than in their mountainous regions.

Saying that there was no government-supported plan for populating
these regions, Fassier said many of these regions lack electricity
and the majority of new settlers live in extreme poverty. “I cannot
say these people live, they just survive there inside semi-destroyed
houses,” Fassier said.