| 8 December 2023, Friday |

UN refugee agency readying for up to 120,000 refugees in Armenia

More than 88,000 individuals have entered Armenia from Nagorno-Karabakh, and the total number of arrivals could reach 120,000. The official made the request for assistance on Friday as the government struggled to deal with the inflow, according to a U.N. refugee agency official.

Since Azerbaijan’s offensive began last week, more than half of the population of the separatist statelet has left.

Kavita Belani, UNHCR representative in Armenia, told a U.N. press briefing by video link that huge crowds of tired and frightened people were gathering at registration centres.

“This is a situation where they’ve lived under nine months of blockade,” she said. “And when they come in, they’re full of anxiety, they’re scared, they’re frightened and they want answers.”

“We are ready to cope with up to 120,000 people. It’s very hard to predict how many will come at this juncture,” she added in response to a question about refugee numbers.

Nearly a third of the refugees are children, another UNHCR official told the briefing. “The major concern for us is that many of them have been separated from their family,” said Regina De Dominicis, UNICEF regional director.

International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies representative Hicham Diab said there was a massive need for mental health support for refugees.

  • Reuters