Armenia

OCHA Situation Report for Armenia - Nov 1999

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I. HIGHLIGHTS
  • Development Cooperation Issues were discussed during the visit of Armenian President to the UN House.
  • The presentation of Armenia's Human Development Report for 1999 took place at the UN Armenia Office.
  • The World AIDS Day was commemorated by UN Theme Group in Armenia.
  • The United Armenian Fund (UAF) has completed its tenth year of operations in Armenia: humanitarian assistance a total of USD 264 million has been provided to Armenia.
  • USA will increase assistance to Armenia up to USD 102.4 million in 2000.
II. SITUATION OVERVIEW

The President of Armenia visited UN House in Yerevan on 30 November 1999. During the visit, the President held a meeting with Assistant Secretary-General, Assistant Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and UNDP Regional Director for Europe and CIS Countries Mr. Anton Kruiderink, and UNDP Resident Representative and UN Resident Coordinator Ms. Katica Cekalovic. The current status and perspectives of development co-operation provided by UNDP and UN specialised Agencies to Armenia were discussed. It was mentioned that during the period 1997-1999, UNDP provided to Armenia over USD 9 million for the implementation of development initiatives in the areas of governance, economic reform, poverty alleviation, sustainable livelihoods, and environmental protection.

The presentation of Armenia's Human Development Report for 1999 took place at the UN Armenia Office on November 30. The report entitled "Five Years of Human Development in Armenia" had been drawn up by independent national experts with the financial and organisational assistance of the UNDP. Proceeding from the sustainable human development concept, the authors of the report make an attempt to draw the public's attention to the economic growth in Armenia and the necessary measures taken to ensure human development in the country.

The third session of the Armenian-Russian inter-governmental economic cooperation commission opened on November 26 in Yerevan. Referring to economic issues, the Armenian Prime Minister said that the nuclear energy is a sector of utmost importance for Armenia. He mentioned Russia's assistance in securing the safe operation of the Armenian nuclear power plant. Russian Nuclear Energy Minister and Armenian Prime Minister said that they are ready to cooperate with Armenia to seek for the most reliable and safest ways of developing nuclear energy.

1 December is commemorated as the World AIDS Day. This year UNAIDS developed the World AIDS Campaign with Children and Young People - Listen, Learn, Live. In Armenia the UN Theme Group commemorated the World AIDS Day through several activities. The Talk-Show on HIV/AIDS problems was organised and aired by the Regional TV Channels in different regions of the country. Governmental Officials, Parliamentarians, NGOs, students, UN Agencies were invited to participate in the TV Programme.

On December 7, the UN Office in Armenia made its contribution to the cause of voluntarism placing it in the context of the International Year of the Elderly. A Fund raising campaign was convened among the staff of the UN Agencies in Yerevan, and winterization materials and hygiene supplies sufficient to take care of the most basic needs of one hospice in Yerevan were purchased.

The United Armenia Fund (UAF) has completed its tenth year of operations during which it sent to Armenia a total of USD 264 million of humanitarian assistance on board 106 airlifts and 541 sea containers. The UAF is the collective effort of the Armenian Assembly of America (AAA), the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU), the Armenian Missionary Association of America (AMAA), the Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America and the Lincy Foundation (LF).

US Increases Assistance to Armenia. The US Congress - the House of Representatives and the Senate voted on November 18 to increase US assistance to Armenia and maintain Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act. Under the final bill Armenia will receive USD 102.4 million in US assistance for Armenia in the fiscal year 2000 comparing with the fiscal year 1999 (USD 79.8 million).

On November 29, Armenian Prime Minister signed a Financial Memorandum for the implementation of the telecommunication network for the Caucasian Railways. The programme is financed by the European Commission and involves the co-operation of the three countries of the South Caucasus. It covers the installation of an optical Telecommunication cable in the ground of the three States allowing for a direct connection with Europe. It will contribute to the establishment of a Trans Asia - Europe Cable (TAE). The European Commission has allocated a grant of Euro 15 million for this project.

III. SECTORAL SUMMARY OF EVENTS

1. Food Security/Agriculture

UN World Food Programme (WFP) offered 10,000 food portions for distribution during third cycle of food assistance to the most vulnerable refugee families in overall Armenia. The Department of Migration and Refugees (DMR) in co-operation with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) will manage the food assistance to the refugees through the Departments of Social Services in the regions.

2. Health & Nutrition

WFP is currently working on a "Mother and Child Health and Nutrition" project proposal to be implemented in Syunik, Shirak and Gegharkunik Regions. The project proposal has to be submitted to a Canadian Impact Grant Project. It aims to decrease the maternal mortality rate and the rate of pregnancy and delivery complications; reduce anaemia in pregnant and other vulnerable women and children; reduce the incidence of low birth weight of new-borns; decrease the number of children with malnutrition and ensure a balanced food intake of women and children; provide education and training for women and girls; address water and sanitation needs. The project will seek to avail from UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) in terms of technical assistance and supervision.

UNICEF supported a 10-day training on childhood illness for 16 health staff from the pilot policlinic #8 in Yerevan. Distribution of medical kits will follow. Within the framework of the project on integrated management of childhood illness (IMCI), UNICEF also supported a 3-day workshop on organisation and initial adaptation of IMCI modules, charts and forms for 20 participants, involved in the process.

A 2-day training for health personnel from Yerevan on prevention of iodine deficiency disorders (IDD) and universal salt iodization was held through the support from UNICEF. UNICEF also supported the Ministry of Health to produce two video reels, to print 2,000 posters and 50,000 leaflets to raise public awareness about IDD and its prevention, which will be distributed to the health facilities nation-wide.

UNICEF supported printing of 200,000 acute respiratory infections (ARI) case management forms and leaflets intended for use by children's polyclinics, as well as production of video reels on ARI and diarrhoeal diseases for caretakers.

In Lori, Aragatsotn and Armavit regions training on emergency obstetric and neonatal care for maternity health staff was organised with the support of UNICEF. All the participants (groups of 25-28 persons from each region) received emergency obstetric and neonatal care modules.

MSF/Belgium in collaboration with the Republican Centre of Gynaecology/Obstetrics and Perinatology is carrying out screening in Tavush region to assess the situation of Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) and the cancer situation of women living in Tavush region.

3. Education, Child Rights

On 25-28 November the Ministry of Education and Science organised a National Conference on Pre-Primary Education with the support from UNICEF. The conference was the first event organised by the Ministry to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).

The All-Armenian Women's Union NGO completed a 6-month project, supported by UNICEF, to raise children's awareness about CRC and the UN system. The nation-wide project, commemorating the 10th anniversary of CRC involved implementation of model UN agency activities. Local teams in Goris, Kapan, Ijevan and Yeghvard modeled activities of UNICEF, UNEP, UNHCR, UNESCO and WHO, with involvement of consultants from the respective agencies. The project culminated in children's summit organised by UNICEF, UNHCR and UN Department of Public Information (DPI) at the Small Philharmonic Hall in the centre of Yerevan. 250 children from six regions of Armenia, including a team from Georgia and 35 refugee children from Yerevan and the regions participated in the event. They presented small performances on different UN topics.

In the framework of educational outreach activities UN DPI cooperates with schools (schoolteachers, school children). The main aim of these activities is to advocate the UN mandate, especially in the peace-keeping, peace-building and human rights field among the school-children in the country.

A monitoring trip was undertaken by UNHCR to the villages of the northern Armenia to evaluate the progress of the pilot project "Armenian Children for Healthy Lifestyle", the establishment of the youth centres/libraries and the work of the Parent/Teacher partnership groups. An appreciation of communities assuming responsibilities in improving their life has been observed.

Several exhibitions and theatrical two performances were organised by refugee disabled children with the help of UNHCR and its implementing partners. The activities aimed at raising awareness about the right of disabled, mainstreaming their cause as a fundamental aspect of the Convention on the Rights of Child and the Human Rights Declaration.

4. Construction/Shelter/Rehabilitation

Commemoration of the completion of UNHCR, Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) and Government co-funded construction of 52 houses for refugees took place in Stepanavan. The majority of the beneficiary families have applied and acquired the Armenian citizenship. The shelter construction works are near completion in Aparan/Jrambar settlement for 70 families. Two other communal centres in Yerevan city (Astrakhan and Vardashen) are being rehabilitated by UNHCR.

With the assistance of Swiss Shelter Consultant new sites of uncompleted buildings that could be used for remodelling into shelter for refugees have been technically assessed. These are public buildings of which UNHCR is seeking the government to transfer their ownership to refugees.

On November 14 the American Red Cross Delegation in Armenia (ARC) celebrated the opening of fifteen apartment buildings in the cities of Gyumri and Vanadzor within the Earthquake Reconstruction programme. The buildings were constructed using USD 5 million grant from the Lincy Foundation. Eight of the buildings totalling 128 apartments are located in Giumri and seven buildings, totalling 110 apartments, are located in Vanadzor.

5. Small and Medium Business Development

Shorebank Advisory Services (SAS), with the financial support from US Agency for International Development (USAID), is implementing a 5-year programme worth USD 20 million in the countries of the South Caucasus as part of the small and medium-sized business development programme. The SAS will issue 5-75-thousand loans to enterprises to be repayable within 3-24 months at an annual interest rate of 21%. Loans will be issued to privately owned and other enterprises shared in by the government not more than 50% for the purchase of equipment and replenishment of their circulating assets.

6. Refugee Affairs

The ECHO Representative for the Southern Caucuses Mr. Gunter Beuchel visited Armenia for monitoring the current developments in Armenia as well project progress. Discussions held with UNHCR focused on areas of common interest and possible future collaborations. ECHO has donated some Euro 170,000 for alleviating the impact of the Russian economic crisis. The funds are being used for supporting low-income families with micro-credit scheme.

The fourth shipment of material donation consisting of quilts, sewing and school kits was received by UNHCR from World Lutheran Organisation. The Department of Migration and Refugees in co-operation with UNHCR will manage distribution of items to the refugees through the Departments of Social Services in refugee populated areas.

7. Migration

The Armenian Red Cross Society organised a two-day workshop on Population Movement. The representatives of International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societes (IFRC), UNHCR, International Organisation for Migration (IOM), The Department of Migration and Refugees, Departments of Social Services in the regions and a local NGO Mission Armenia participated in the workshop. The purpose of the workshop was to initiate a co-operation between the aforementioned organisations in the activities related to migration and refugees issues in Armenia.

A report "Creation of a Migration Entity: Recommendations" prepared by IOM has provided assistance to the Department of Migration and Refugees. DMR has formed a task force for the preparation of a programme package for the government's consideration and approval. The package will include a unified national migration policy and policy statement, improvement and harmonization of migration related legislation and the design of work processes for the implementation of the above. This is to be completed by May 2000.

8. Capacity Building

A Plan and Budget were finalised by IOM for the coming one year period for the programme in all three South Caucasus countries. Activities will focus on resource center services to local NGOs working on migration issues, regional training and networking and small grants for thematic projects. The two themes will be Irregular Migration and Migrant Health.

Contributions are welcome and should reach UN OCHA by 29th of each month.

UN OCHA ARMENIA
Ms. Knarik Kamalian
Head of Office
Tel (3742)151-749(AT&T),562-355
Fax (3742)151-749
E-mail: ocha@arminco.com/unocha@freenet.am

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.