“Europe can learn from Azerbaijan in tackling refugee crisis”
Baku. 6 October. REPORT.AZ/ Article by Azerbaijan’s Consul General in Los Angeles Nasimi Aghayev was published on October 5, 2015 by the influential U.S. newspaper “The Daily Caller”.
Report was told in the press service of Azerbaijan's Consulate General in Los Angeles, the article entitled “Small Nation’s Lessons on the Refugee Crisis”, highlights the need for compassion when dealing with refugees, and in this regard mentions Azerbaijan’s experiences in tackling the humanitarian catastrophe caused in the 1990s as a result of occupation and ethnic cleansing of Azerbaijan’s lands by Armenia.
N.Aghayev states: “My country Azerbaijan is very familiar with the tragedy and challenge of refugees fleeing from conflict. The illegal military invasion and ethnic cleansing of Azerbaijan’s lands by Armenia in the early 1990s led to over one million Azerbaijanis being forced to flee their homes and lands, where they had lived in peace for centuries. This was almost 15% of Azerbaijan’s population at the time. In addition to all external Azerbaijani refugees (expelled from Armenia) and internal refugees (IDPs from occupied lands), Azerbaijan also sheltered around 50,000 Ahiska Turks from Central Asia,” Aghayev continues.
“At the time, Azerbaijan was struggling with war, economic collapse and the political turmoil of independence from the Soviet Union while facing the enormous challenges in dealing with the burden of so much suffering. Humanitarian aid from the international community was welcome but not enough: the internal refugees took shelter in enormous tent camps without electricity, running water, schools, or adequate medical services. The refugees included hundreds of thousands of children – a whole generation of Azerbaijan’s citizens – with their childhoods ruined, dreams shattered and opportunities lost. But rather than turn its back, the government, little by little committed to taking care of those most in need,” the Consul General mentions.
“Things have come a long way since the trauma of the 1990s. The last tent camp in Azerbaijan was closed in 2007, and spending billions of dollars, the government has built temporary housing with all necessary utilities, along with schools, hospitals and other services so that everyone can have the standard of living they deserve. All refugees from Armenia and Central Asia were granted Azerbaijani citizenship, which enabled them the same rights as all other citizens of the country,” so Aghayev.
“The lesson, which Azerbaijan learnt in coping with its refugee crisis, has been quite simple: no matter the size of the burden, we must always take it on with compassion and determination... Lacking resources and experience, our country was still determined to accept those who had been forced to flee, no matter what the cost,” the Consul General notes.