United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 1997 - Armenia, 1 January 1997, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6a8b934.html [accessed 25 July 2016]
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At the end of 1996, an estimated 150,000 refugees were living in Armenia. Of these, 22,000 were from the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan, and nearly all of the remainder from elsewhere in Azerbaijan. Since the May 1994 cease-fire between ethnic Armenian forces in Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan government forces, 35,000 refugees have returned from Armenia to Nagorno-Karabakh. The Armenian government reported that there were 1,239 such returnees in 1996. There were also an estimated 50,000 internally displaced persons in Armenia. UNHCR recorded no new refugee arrivals or internal displacements in 1996. During the year, 90,000 ethnic Armenians from Azerbaijan left Armenia for other countries, according to the Armenian government. The overwhelming majority went to Russia. Although no formal asylum procedure existed in 1996, an ad-hoc committee within the State Department for Refugees considered asylum requests. There were 109 people in Armenia awaiting a decision on asylum at the end of 1996. Of that number, 94 were from Iran, 14 from Iraq, and one from Sudan. No asylum applications were adjudicated during the year. In addition, 952 people from the Abkhazia region of Georgia and the Chechnya region of the Russian Federation "found refuge" in Armenia in 1996, according to the government. Although the Republic of Armenia acceded to the 1951 UN Refugee Convention in 1993, it has not established the legal framework necessary to implement it. However, the Armenian parliament is considering a draft Law on Refugees that would establish asylum procedures in accordance with international standards. UNHCR is closely involved in the law's development and in efforts to ensure its passage, which could occur in 1997. The Armenian National Assembly passed a Law on Citizenship in October 1995 that will eventually allow all refugees who are permanent residents of Armenia to apply for citizenship. There is a three-year residence requirement from which ethnic Armenians are exempt. As of the end of 1996, the law was not in effect because procedures for implementing it had yet to be published. Approximately 20,000 refugees remain in temporary accommodations such as dormitories, hotels, resorts, and makeshift shelters. Another 42,000 refugees live in houses in villages abandoned by Azeris during the 1988-94 conflict. The rest live in private accommodations. In 1996, UNHCR and other international organizations and governments provided aid such as food, irrigation and utility repairs, and housing to the most vulnerable among the refugee population. Human Rights Watch reported in 1996 that the Armenian Ministry of Defense illegally drafted refugees from Azerbaijan, including Nagorno-Karabakh, into the military.