By Abdul Kerimkhanov
The most tragic pages of the history of Azerbaijan in the 20th century are related to the problem of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs). During 1988-1993, as a result of the ethnic cleansing policy pursued by Armenia within the country and in Azerbaijan’s Nagorno-Karabakh, hundreds of thousands of Azerbaijanis became refugees and IDPs.
One generation of IDPs has already grown in Azerbaijan, Cecilia Jimenez-Damary, UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons, said at the conference "Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons in Azerbaijan: Progress and Challenges", recently held within the 41st session of Human Rights Council in Geneva.
Diplomats accredited to the UN office in Geneva, staff of international organizations and representatives of a number of non-governmental organizations attended the event.
Vaqif Sadigov, Permanent Representative of Azerbaijan to the UN and other international organizations in Geneva, said Azerbaijan is among the countries in which there is the largest ratio of the number of refugees and IDPs to the total number of population.
He noted that solving the problems of IDPs expelled from their lands as a result of Armenia’s occupation of Azerbaijan’s Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent regions is one of the government’s policy priorities. Sadigov added that the only way to solve the problems of IDPs is to liberate the occupied territories of Azerbaijan.
In turn, Fuad Huseynov, Deputy Chairman of the State Committee for Refugees and Displaced Persons of Azerbaijan, reported that as a result of the aggression of Armenia, more than a million of Azerbaijanis became refugees and IDPs.
Elizabeth Rushing, researcher at the Center for Monitoring Internal Movements, which is an international non-governmental organization, noted that during the visit to the village of Jojug Marjanly, freed from the occupation, she familiarized herself with the conditions created for the families of the IDPs, and also visited the new settlements built for them in the Baku suburb.
In addition, Farah Ajalova, Deputy Head of Department on Human Rights and Democracy, told about the government’s cooperation with international organizations in solving the problems of IDPs. She added that the Armenian illegal actions in the occupied territories, including the resettlement of Armenians from other countries to change the ethnic composition of the Azerbaijani region, indicate that the government of Armenia is not interested in a political settlement of this problem.
Azerbaijan hopes that the 2019 year will be important for the settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Country's principled position remains unchanged, and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan must be ensured unconditionally, Armenian forces must withdraw from occupied Azerbaijani lands, as international law requires.
Azerbaijan stands by to boost efforts in the foreign policy in this direction this year on the basis of bilateral contacts. Both historical and legal grounds support the country's position.
The Armenian side, which constantly stalls for time in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict resolution, needs to realize that the processes taking place in the region strengthen Azerbaijan's regional authority and the situation in the region is changing in Azerbaijan's advantage.
Abdul Kerimkhanov is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @AbdulKerim94
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