Empowering Female IDPs in Nagorno-Karabakh

By Julie Snyder

The current Syrian refugee crisis has caused alarm across the globe, leading to political, economic, and security challenges. While the international community decides how to handle this problem, it is important to consider the next stages of the Syrian crisis, particularly for women. The case of Nagorno-Karabakh presents a grim vision of what could lie ahead if Syria lapses into a frozen conflict- a situation where violence has ceased, ending the “hot” conflict, but there has not been success in reaching a satisfying peace agreement.

Nagorno-Karabakh is a small strip of land internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan though governed as a de facto yet unrecognized state plagued by violence since the 1990s. Due to its geostrategic position and rich natural resources, Nagorno-Karabakh has been home to conflict for hundreds of years; most recently, violence erupted in the late 1980s when Armenia claimed the land from Azerbaijan, leaving over 120,000 casualties and hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in its wake. Failed negotiations over the past few decades have left claims on Nagorno-Karabakh hotly contested, leaving hundreds of thousands forbidden from returning to their homes and producing no permanent peace agreements.

Location_Nagorno-Karabakh2

Despite intervention from a variety of development agencies and implementers, including USAID, the Armenian government, and NGOs, the people of Nagorno-Karabakh face the obstacles of frozen conflict daily with little possibility of improved livelihoods in their future. Currently, there are over 597,000 IDPs in Nagorno-Karabakh residing in camps only miles from their homes. These IDPs face a number of issues despite significant government and international assistance, and the aid of NGOs. Their primary concerns include “inadequate housing, precarious livelihoods, gender-based violence, segregated education… and IDP’s limited participation in decisions that affect them.” Continue reading