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Armenia: Activities in 2012

12-03-2013 Operational Update

A round-up of the ICRC's work in Armenia.

Assisting civilians in unsafe areas

Pursuing their dialogue with the authorities on matters of humanitarian concern stemming from the Nagorny Karabakh conflict, ICRC delegates continued monitoring the situation of communities living on both sides of the international border between Armenia and Azerbaijan.  To help people in border villages meet their basic economic needs, the organization carried out a number of livelihood projects in frontline villages in Tavush province. The ICRC:

  • repaired and upgraded irrigation networks in the remote villages of Dovegh and Chinary, thus enabling their inhabitants to gradually increase their agricultural production on safe land;
  • repaired and upgraded drinking-water supply networks in Berkaber, Aygepar and Nerkin Karmir Aghbyur villages;
  • provided wheat and potato seed plus fruit trees for over 1,000 families in Chinary, Berkaber, Aygepar and Nerkir Karmir Aghbyur villages.

Working together with volunteers from the Armenian Red Cross Society, ICRC staff  used standard questionnaires to gauge the needs of Armenia's estimated 500 victims of mines and other explosive remnants of war.

  • Armenian Red Cross volunteers collected information on 59 victims of these devices from Tavush, Gegharkunik, Syunik, Vayots Dzor and Ararat provinces and the city of Yerevan.

To enhance its emergency preparedness, the ICRC helped the National Society conduct six basic first-aid courses for residents of Tavush and Syunik provinces. In all, 58 people qualified as first aiders.

Families of missing persons

At the end of December, 4,627 people remained unaccounted for in connection with the Nagorny Karabakh conflict. In all, 432 people were registered as missing in Armenia. For the ICRC, ascertaining their fate and addressing the various needs of their families remained a priority.

  • The ICRC continued working closely with the national commission for prisoners of war, hostages and missing people to set up a centralized system for the management of "ante-mortem data". This data is stored for use in future efforts to identify human remains.
  • The ICRC also worked with the commission to prepare operating procedures for the collection of DNA samples from relatives of the missing. The process should start this year.

In 2011, the ICRC launched an initiative to aimed at meeting the psychological, legal, social and economic needs of the families of missing people. Its work continued throughout 2012 in Yerevan and Shirak, Tavush, Lori, Armavir and Gegharkunik provinces.

  • With the help of ICRC-trained local partners* and Armenian Red Cross staff, 247 relatives of missing persons were able to voice their trauma and their concerns during a total of 41 events at which they received information and support. Meanwhile, 82 individuals requiring extra help benefited from individual support provided by ICRC partners.
  • The ICRC organized a series of workshops and discussions for 52 young people to give them an opportunity to talk about the experience of growing up with a father missing and to make their voices heard. Similar activities were organized for other family members from across the country on 30 August, International Day of the Disappeared.

To help families of the missing cope with economic hardship, the ICRC continued gauging their economic needs and providing economic support.

  • Surveys continued of the needs of missing people's families in Syunik, Armavir, Shirak and Gegharkunik provinces.
  • In conjunction with the Fuller Centre for Housing in Armenia, the ICRC improved housing conditions for 33 families from Tavush, Armavir, Shirak, Gegharkunik, Syunik and Lori provinces.
  • To help them achieve a stable income, 27 families took part in ICRC-run micro-economic projects. They received financial support and vocational training, while the ICRC covered the interest rate on loans taken out by five families from local micro-financing NGOs with which the ICRC has agreements to help small businesses.

* Fund Against Violations of the Law, Armenian Centre for Health and Education, Family and Child Care Foundation (Arevamanuk)

Visiting people deprived of their liberty

  • The ICRC visited two prisoners of war and a civilian internee held in connection with the Nagorny Karabakh conflict, as well as 15 other detainees held in five different facilities throughout the country. During these visits, delegates monitored their treatment and living conditions and, in keeping with standard ICRC procedures, confidentially informed the authorities concerned of their findings and recommendations.
  • Delegates conveyed Red Cross messages (brief personal messages) between the detainees and their families.
  • At the request of all the parties concerned, the ICRC acted as a neutral intermediary to facilitate the repatriation of a civilian internee from Armenia to Azerbaijan.

Implementing international humanitarian law at national level  

The representatives of the ministries of justice, defence and foreign affairs discussed their experience implementing humanitarian law treaties with their colleagues from the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) by participating at the fourth regional seminar on implementing that body of law, held in Astana, Kazakhstan on 2-3 October. The event was organized by the ICRC and Kazakhstan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Promoting humanitarian law among the armed forces

The ICRC continued its dialogue with the Ministry of Defence on incorporating humanitarian law into military operations and training. Meanwhile, humanitarian-law training continued at the military academy and the Ministry's advanced officers' courses.

  • For the first time, the ICRC participated in the practical part of the military exercise organized in Armenia by the Collective Security Treaty Organization in September, simulating its humanitarian action in conflict-affected areas.
  • Two groups of 15 officers each enhanced their skills in humanitarian law to military planning and operational procedures during two five-day workshops jointly conducted by the Ministry of Defence and the ICRC.
  • A high-ranking officer from the Ministry of Defence participated in the senior workshop on international rules governing military operations, held from October 8 to 13 in Kuala Lumpur and organized by the ICRC and the Malaysian armed forces.
  • ICRC held five information sessions for the military contingents deployed in Tavush province to update them on the current ICRC operations in the country.

Acquainting future leaders with international humanitarian law

Continuing its cooperation with universities, the ICRC encouraging motivated students and young researchers to promote and conduct research into humanitarian law.

  • Graduate students and assistant professors from CIS countries, Poland and Iran discussed means and methods of warfare and contemporary challenges for humanitarian law at a conference organized by the ICRC and the Armenian-Russian University (22-23 November).
  • A professor from Yerevan State University took part in a regional workshop on humanitarian law held in Almaty, Kazakhstan, while two other experts served as jury members at the ICRC-supported International IHL Olympiad in Belarus.
  • Ten reporters from Yerevan and other parts of Armenia learnt more about humanitarian law and the ICRC's work during a workshop in Yerevan on 26-30 November (organized by the ICRC and the NGO Internews Media Support.

Joint projects with the Armenian Red Cross

Joint projects by the Armenian Red Cross and the ICRC included help for families of missing people and for the victims of mines and other explosive remnants of war. With ICRC support to boost the National Society's operational capacity, the Armenian Red Cross continued its core activities, including restoring family links, first-aid training and basic promotion of international humanitarian law.