Armenia: Building a future, remembering the past
Manvel Khandilyan disappeared in 1992, during the Nagorny Karabakh conflict. His brother Daniel and their 84-year-old mother are still searching.
In 2012, Daniel decided to take advantage of the ICRC's house renovation programme to renovate the family home in the centre of Armavir, western Armenia. "The renovation process started at the beginning of 2012 and lasted almost six months. It’s made a huge difference to the living conditions for my wife, my three children and my elderly mother,” says Daniel. “She now has her own room."
In 2011, the ICRC launched a project aimed at improving housing for families of missing persons in the Tavush region via interest-free payment-in-kind loans. The ICRC has been running the project in partnership with the Fuller Centre for Housing Armenia, which provides expert advice on construction materials and the technical aspects of refurbishment. In 2012, the project expanded to include the regions of Gegharkunik, Shirak and Syunik.
A former champion weightlifter, Daniel knows all about perseverance. Two years ago, he established a small bakery producing Lavash (traditional Armenian bread) for his neighbourhood. He joined the ICRC’s micro-economic initiatives project, which lent him the capital he needed to launch his business. "The ICRC is working with three local micro-finance institutions, which provide loans to the families of missing persons. The ICRC pays the interest," explained ICRC delegate Dragana Rankovic, who is in charge of the organization's economic assistance programmes in Armenia.
People who went missing during the Nagorny Karabakh conflict and the plight of their families have been at the heart of ICRC activities since 1992, when the organization began operating in Armenia. The ICRC has long supported the authorities' efforts to find out what happened to those who went missing during the conflict. But when people like Manvel Khandilyan disappear, they leave their families with practical, financial and psychological problems, and the ICRC has been helping them to face these challenges.