Starting Anew․․․ The Struggle for Resettlement after Displacement

Published: Apr 16, 2024 Reading time: 4 minutes
Starting Anew․․․ The Struggle for Resettlement after Displacement
© Photo: Shushanik Nersesyan

Stories of displacement seem never-ending: they all have similarities, yet each remains unique in its own right. Frequently, narratives revolve around individuals who find themselves forced to leave their lives behind and embark on a journey into the unknown.

Over 100,000 ethnic Armenians displaced from Nagorno-Karabakh have resettled across Armenia, grappling with the challenges of everyday life. We endeavour to support them as much as possible to navigate the myriad difficulties caused by displacement. Hence, with the financial support of the European Union, we’re extending assistance to approximately 416 families (2171 individuals) by covering their utility bills and helping them endure the harsh cold of winter.

Mila and Liana are among the displaced individuals who have received payments through our project.  

“My teacher in Goris is as nice as the one I had in Nagorno-Karabakh” 

Mila, originally from Hadrut, endured displacement twice: first during the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war and then again in 2023. Alas, the latter proved to be irreversible. Now residing in a rented house in Goris with her husband, five children, mother, and brother, she recalls the day of displacement through tears. “We barely escaped and survived. We didn’t realise what was happening then”. They fled with only their documents. However, the children took their school photo albums.  

Angelia, their eldest daughter (12), has a knack for painting. She once painted her teacher from Karabakh, though after displacement, they lost touch. Angelina continues to paint with one of her pieces being displayed on the wall of the school in Goris. Despite the upheaval, Samvel reflects, “My teacher in Goris is as nice as the one I had in Nagorno-Karabakh.”

Slowly, they adapt to their new environment, attending school, engaging in dance classes, and seeking out new learning opportunities to expand their horizons and fill the day. Despite the many difficulties they’ve faced, they maintain optimism and childlike enthusiasm, eagerly sharing the songs and dances they’ve learned with us.

Handicrafts as a means of living  

Liana, displaced from Stepanakert with her family, shows the handicrafts made by her 13-year-old daughter, Angelina, sharing a name with our previous heroine. Angelina made wine cases from carpet adorned with “Artsakh” and “Goris” inscriptions, as well as refrigerator magnets featuring Armenian patterns.

Angelina spent four years studying carpet weaving in Nagorno-Karabakh. She had only a year remaining in her studies before displacement disrupted her plans. Undeterred, she continues to pursue her passion in Armenia and sells many of her crafts. However, what she brought from Artsakh holds special significance and is meticulously preserved.

Residing in a rented house in Goris, the family of eight—Liana, her husband, their five children and Liana’s mother—faces challenges. The house is so damp that they have to rely on wood and electricity to warm it constantly and make it possible to sleep at night.

Liana worked in a pastry business in Nagorno-Karabakh, preparing various types of pastries, cakes and pies. Unfortunately, she couldn’t bring along the necessary confectionery supplies to Armenia. Despite this setback, she hopes that one day she will resume her passion for pastry-making, both as a beloved hobby and a source of income.  

Witnessing these stories underscores the vital importance of even the smallest form of support in alleviating the suffering of those displaced by conflict. People in Need, along with our consortium partners Medecins du Monde (MdM) and Mission Armenia (MA), have initiated one more project -“Multisectoral emergency assistance to vulnerable conflict-affected population” - with funding from the European Union. We joined our efforts to assist over 23,000 individuals affected by the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh in September 2023, including those within host communities, through different mechanisms. We are providing eco-friendly briquettes for warmth during the harsh winter months, utility payments, child-friendly spaces catering to children aged 3-15, and vouchers for equipment, clothes and practical items such as foldable beds and blankets.  

Each component of the program is implemented in specific regions, carefully tailored to address the distinct needs of vulnerable populations. We identified the families in need of our assistance with the support of local authorities mirroring our approach in other programs. 

Autor: Elma Vardanyan

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