U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 1997 - Azerbaijan

In 1996, there were more than 250,000 refugees and 550,000 internally displaced persons in Azerbaijan. According to the Azerbaijan government, the refugees included 196,845 ethnic Azerbaijanis from Armenia and 51,649 Meskhetian Turks from Uzbekistan. In 1996, UNHCR registered 163 asylum seekers and refugees, including 85 from Afghanistan and 25 from Iran. Although Azerbaijan is a signatory to the UN Refugee Convention and Protocol, it does not have a status determination procedure for asylum seekers originating from outside the Commonwealth of Independent States. Many of the internally displaced continued to live in very poor conditions, in accommodations ranging from boarding houses, sanitariums, and student hostels to railroad cars, schools, and unused factories. Approximately 55,000 people are in camps, many of which are administered by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. The government warned that conditions faced by refugees and internally displaced persons in Azerbaijan were critical in 1996. According to government statistics, hepatitis cases had increased 144 percent since January 1993. It said that one third of all refugee and displaced children showed signs of stunted growth, that 44 percent of all refugee children from ages one to five were anemic, and that respiratory infections were the leading cause of infant mortality. A U.S. congressional ban on aid to Azerbaijan remained in force in 1996. The ban did not apply to humanitarian aid to Azerbaijani NGOs. Since local NGOs had still not developed the capacity to provide a full range of humanitarian services, the aid ban significantly affected the delivery of humanitarian assistance, especially health care, which is completely state-run.

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