Last Updated: Sunday, 04 December 2016, 13:42 GMT

Global Overview 2012: People internally displaced by conflict and violence - Azerbaijan

Publisher Norwegian Refugee Council/Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (NRC/IDMC)
Publication Date 29 April 2013
Cite as Norwegian Refugee Council/Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (NRC/IDMC), Global Overview 2012: People internally displaced by conflict and violence - Azerbaijan, 29 April 2013, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/517fb07318.html [accessed 5 December 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.
Number of IDPsUp to 600,000
Percentage of total populationAbout 6.3%
Start of displacement situation1988
Peak number of IDPs (year)600,000 (1990)
New displacement in 2012
Causes of displacementx International armed conflict
✓ Internal armed conflict
x Deliberate policy or practice of arbitrary displacement
✓ Communal violence
x Criminal violence
x Political violence
Human development index82

Up to 600,000 people were internally displaced in Azerbaijan as of the end of 2012. They fled their homes between 1988 and 1994 as a result of the armed conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. By the time a ceasefire agreement was signed, an estimated 30,000 people had been killed and more than 700,000 internally displaced. In the continued absence of a comprehensive resolution to the conflict, Azerbaijan does not have effective control over Nagorno-Karabakh and the seven surrounding districts, and for the large part IDPs continue to be prevented from returning to their homes.

The government of Azerbaijan, aided by its increasing oil wealth, has spent $4.4 billion on refugees and IDPs and settled more than 140,000 in newly built homes as part of a national programme launched in 2004. More than 10,000 IDPs were settled in new housing during 2012, including on the outskirts of the capital Baku. Most settlements included new schools, and medical and community centres.

IDPs also continued to benefit from positive discrimination measures such as a monthly allowance, exemption from utility payments and preferential access to state jobs. The government also continued to build protective walls to shield IDPs and others living near the ceasefire line from stray bullets from continuing sporadic clashes.

New homes have improved the living conditions of many resettled IDPs, but some have reported problems such as sinking foundations, poor plumbing, leaking roofs and limited access to land suitable for farming. Some settlements are in remote locations with few opportunities to earn an income, only limited health care services and a lack of public transport links. Resettled IDPs also have inadequate legal tenure security. According to the government, IDPs were involved in decision-making about their new housing, but some stated that they had not been consulted and would have liked to have contributed their savings in order to acquire a larger home to accommodate their growing families.

The majority of IDPs are yet to benefit from government housing assistance. More than 400,000 continue to live in dilapidated, crowded and unsanitary collective centres such as former hostels, schools, kindergartens and sanatoriums. Around 6,000 IDPs occupy housing owned by others often without paying rent, and the government is preparing housing solutions for this group. An unknown number live in makeshift accommodation such as railway carriages and mud houses, where health and other problems associated with poor living conditions are commonplace. The remainder live in housing they have bought or built on their own.

Quotas intended to improve IDPs' job prospects have proved less than effective and most IDPs are officially unemployed. Most of their income consists of government transfers and remittances from relatives working abroad. That said, it is assumed that many work as day labourers, taxi drivers or in other non-registered jobs. IDPs express the wish to diversify their income sources, but limited social networks, risk aversion, persistent indebtedness and prolonged economic inactivity among women stand in the way of their doing so.

IDPs are poorer than the general population, and their poverty has a number of consequences. In some cases health conditions have gone untreated, while in others children have taken up work in order to supplement the family income and their school attendance has often suffered as a result.

The situation of IDPs continues to be monitored by human rights mechanisms. In 2012 the UN's Committee for the Rights of the Child noted an increased allocation of funding to address the needs of internally displaced children. It also recommended that the state include mandatory modules on human rights in the school curriculum and introduce training programmes for all professionals working with or for internally displaced children. International organisations continue to assist IDPs, though funding has decreased as Azerbaijan has become a middle-income country.

More than 20 years since their displacement, IDPs continue to face significant obstacles in their efforts to achieve durable solutions. These include restricted freedom of movement and choice of residence, substandard living conditions, limited access to livelihoods and self-reliance, inability to stand for public office in their places of displacement, problems in accessing personal and other documentation and a lack of remedies for displacement-related violations. IDPs also continue to be excluded from decision-making processes that affect their lives, meaning that their needs, rights and interests do not fully guide policies and decisions intended to address displacement.

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