On 27 September 2020, the conflict over Nagorno Karabakh (NK) (population of 150,000) escalated. In October and November 2020, shelling in the main cities of NK displaced NK residents to Armenian cities bordering NK and larger cities, including the capital Yerevan. After several failed ceasefire attempts, on 10 November 2020, parties agreed to a Russia-brokered ceasefire which has thus far been upheld.
With a part of the displaced population expected to stay in Armenia for the longer term, it gains greater importance to understand residual humanitarian and early recovery needs of the refugee-like population and their intentions. Filling these information gaps will allow humanitarian actors to develop a clear and consistent understanding of the risks, constraints, existing challenges and future opportunities that households (HHs) in a refugee-like situation are facing and to better program interventions to support the affected population.
REACH has been actively supporting information management efforts undertaken by humanitarian actors in the Republic of Armenia (RA) since November 2020. The first round of the Multi-Sector Needs Assessment (MSNA) of households (HH) in a refugee-like situation and hosting HHs conducted in November-December 2020 was seeking to understand the priority needs and vulnerabilities affecting the two population groups, as well as how the affected population could be supported to cope with their situation. In March 2021, REACH implemented the second round of follow-up nationwide MSNA in close collaboration with the Information Management Working Group and the Coordination Steering Group in Armenia, to evaluate how core humanitarian needs have changed after the winter and to assess the intentions of people in a refugee-like situation in terms of durable solutions.
This report presents findings and analyses across the sectors of demographics, protection, accountability to affected population (AAP), shelter, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), health (with a zoom-in on COVID-19), livelihoods, food security, and education for HHs in a refugee-like situation and hosting HHs across all regions of Armenia, including the capital Yerevan. Key findings from the MSNA include, but are not limited to, the following:
Shelter and Non-Food Items (NFI): Shelter emerged as the most prioritized need for the population in a refugee-like situation, consistent with findings from the previous round, as 48% of HHs in a refugee-like situation indicated it as their top first need. While 37% of HHs in a refugee-like situation and 45% of the assessed hosting HHs reported their current accommodation did not have any issues, the most occurring issue for both population groups was a lack of space, reported by 28% of HHs in a refugee-like situation and 32% of hosting HHs. Additionally, the most common accommodation need for both population groups was the need to improve privacy and dignity, reported by 29% of HHs (for both cases). In terms of missing NFIs, up to 50% of the HHs in a refugee-like situation reported missing bedding items.
Protection: No major protection issues were reported by HHs in a refugee-like situation and hosting HHs, with only a few of them reporting taking care of unrelated minors or having children under the age of 18 separated from their HH. Data collected on safety perceptions demonstrates that 87% of HHs in a refugee-like situation and 95% of hosting HHs reported members of HH feeling very safe or somewhat safe in their current place of residency. Among HHs in a refugee-like situation, lower safety perception was registered in Syunik. Overall, only 5% of HHs in a refugee-like situation and 0.4% of hosting HHs reported feeling not safe at all. Regarding financial security, on average, 52% of HHs in a refugee-like situation and 59% of the hosting HHs reported having debts. The average debt load of HHs in a refugee-like situation has multiplied by about 2 times since the previous round in December, and for hosting HHs – by 1.75 times.
Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH): Findings suggested that the main source of drinking water for both hosting HHs and HHs in a refugee-like situation was tap water. In Armavir and Ararat, trucked water was the second most reported water source in both hosting HHs and HHs in a refugee-like situation. This is a contrast from winter, when bottled water was more commonly reported. Like in the previous round, most of the HHs in a refugee-like situation (more than 90%) reported having enough water for cooking, drinking, and personal hygiene. Only 9% of HHs in a refugee-like situation reported experiencing problems related to access to water. This a considerable increase compared to the previous round when only 1% reported having water access issues. Overall, 82% of HHs in a refugee-like situation and 72% of hosting HHs indicated they had some WASH-related needs. The most commonly reported WASH needs were: washing powder for clothes, soap and toilet paper, cleaning liquid for the house, and detergent for dishes.
Health: Findings suggested persistent health needs among both HHs in a refugee-like situation and hosting HHs. Overall, 53% of the assessed HHs in a refugee-like situation and 42% of the hosting HHs reported that at least one HH member needed specialized healthcare since December 2020. However, out of these HHs, only 11% of HHs in a refugee-like situation and 12% of hosting HHs reported not getting the services needed, also 8% of HHs in a refugee-like situation and 6% of hosting HHs reported not being able to contact a local healthcare provider or visit a nearby health center. Across both population groups, the major problem in terms of accessing healthcare was reportedly the high cost of services and/or medicine. Over half of the assessed HHs (both hosting and in a refugee-like situation) reported not knowing about mental health services available nearby.
Livelihoods: Findings suggested a continuingly insecure employment situation for HHs in a refugee-like situation, as only 23% of HHs in a refugee-like situation mentioned that any of their HH members undertook an income-generating activity since arrival to their current location. Nevertheless, compared to the same figure from December (11%), there appears to be a positive trend. In addition, only 4% of HHs in a refugee-like situation reported having no source of income at the time of data collection (down from 27% in December 2020), while 65% reported social protection as their primary source of income (increased from 30% in December). For most of the hosting HHs, the primary source of income was paid work, and only 6% reported not having a primary source of income. Only a small share of HHs in a refugee-like situation (7%) managed to bring their livestock to the RA.
Food Security: Over 90% of both hosting HHs and HHs in a refugee-like situation reported that store/bought food was one of their main sources of food, while food distributions also constituted a commonly reported source among HHs in a refugee-like situation (49%). Most of the assessed HHs (in both population groups) reported reduced ability to purchase food as compared to a year ago. On average, almost half of the HHs in both population groups reportedly did not have to employ coping strategies because of a lack of food or money to buy it. The most common coping mechanism employed was relying on less preferred or less expensive food. Hosting HHs and HHs in a refugee-like situation were found to have similar dietary diversity (with slight variations) and similar Food Consumption Scores (FCS), with 5.2% of HHs in a refugee-like situation and 4% hosting HHs with a “borderline” and 2.3% of HHs in a refugee-like situation and 3% of hosting HHs with a “poor” FCS.
Education: Notably low proportions of HHs (5% of HHs in a refugee-like situation and 2% of hosting HHs) reported that there were no education or childcare facilities available for children in their HHs. Both groups were found to have almost the same share of HHs with school-aged children enrolled in formal education (over 90% of HHs with school-aged children). Less than one-fifth (18%) of HHs in a refugee-like situation reported not having the needed school supplies for education (down from 40% in the previous round), compared to 16% among hosting HHs.
COVID-19: Most of the assessed HHs reported that all or some of the HH members took necessary action to prevent themselves from getting COVID-19, while 19% of HHs in a refugee-like situation and only 13% of hosting HHs reported having taken no action. When asked about the availability of protective measures against COVID-19, over 60% in both population groups mentioned that all items were available in sufficient quantity. The most-reported difficulty was in accessing face masks and HH hygiene products.
If offered a vaccine against COVID-19, over 90% of both population groups reported that they either would not take it or were unsure to take it.