Ambassadors Join UN Agency Heads For Helicopter Trip to Refugee Area


26 Feb 05

Yesterday, a MI-28 helicopter took a senior-level delegation of
Ambassadors and heads of UN Agencies to Syunik marz, the most remote
province of Armenia, to visit refugees and project sites. Ambassadors
and senior officers from France, Untied States, United Kingdom, India,
Germany, Poland, Italy, OSCE, European Commission, USAID, Armenia
Social Investment Fund as well as the UN Resident Coordinator, and
Representatives of UNHCR and UNICEF accepted the invitation of the
Governor of Syunik and visited Meghri, Vardanidzor and Goris

Members of the diplomatic corps visited sites where the United Nations
have on-going programmes. The Governor and UN Agencies also discussed
future joint programmes including reconstruction of the school in
Vardanidzor, construction of a refugee hostel in Goris and expansion
of child-centred health and education initiatives. Local authorities
confirmed that they are fully committed to support all new initiatives
with both human and financial resources.

Ms. Lise Grande, UN Resident Coordinator in Armenia, summarised the
trip: “Last year all of the UN Agencies working in Armenia developed
an unprecedented joint five-year plan. The UN is committed working
under the leadership of the Government to reduce economic, social and
political inequality in the country. By visiting refugee-populated
communities in Syunik marz and by showing how the whole UN family is
working together to find solutions, we hope to encourage other donor
missions to help with our efforts in impoverished and remote
communities. We are confident that the international community
represented in Armenia will support proposals aimed at alleviating
hardship of the people we visited today.”

The number of registered refugees in Syunik is 9,505, of which 77
percent reside in urban areas and 23 percent in rural
areas. Approximately 50 percent of refugees in the marz live in
Kapan. The most heavily refugee-populated communities are Aldara,
where 85.4 percent of the population are refugees, Khalaj where they
are 73.7 percent, Gomaran, where they are 73.5 percent and Yegheg,
Vorotan, Vardanidzor, Nyuvadi, Lehvaz, and Toruniq where they are more
than 40 percent. The unemployment rate in Syunik is 1.7 times higher
than the national average. Basic health indicators, such as incidences
of anaemia and stunting, are significantly higher in Syunik marz than
in other parts of the country. School attendance rates in refugee
communities are also notably lower than national averages.