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REACH Armenia: Multi-Sector Needs Assessment (MSNA) - Report on humanitarian needs of people in a refugee- like situation and hosting households affected by the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh (December 2020)

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Executive Summary

In September 2020, the protracted conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh (NK) escalated. While the situation in NK has been tense since the late Soviet era, the 2020 autumn escalation was comparable in its scope to war over NK in the 1990s, which displaced hundreds of thousands and killed more 17,000 people. 1 After trilateral consultations, a ceasefire was brokered between Russia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan on November 10th , with several territories of the ‘crown of NK’ being transferred to Azerbaijan2 . The conflict and subsequent transfer of territories to Azerbaijan forced more than 90,000 from NK to relocate to the Republic of Armenia temporarily and permanently. The current exact number of people in a refugee-like situation from NK is not available and estimates vary from 40,000 to 80,000 people.3

REACH Initiative (REACH) has been actively supporting information management efforts undertaken by humanitarian actors in the Republic of Armenia (RA) since November 2020. To fill in the missing information gaps on people affected by the NK conflict, REACH conducted a Multi-Sector Needs Assessment (MSNA) of households (HH) in refugee-like situation and hosting HHs. This MSNA seeks to understand the priority needs and vulnerabilities which affect HHs in a refugee-like situation from NK and the HHs who are hosting them, as well as how the affected population can be supported to cope with their current situation.

This report presents findings and analyses across the sectors of demographics, protection, education, livelihoods, food security, health, shelter, and WASH for HHs in a refugee-like situation and hosting HHs across six regions of Armenia and Yerevan. Key findings from the MSNA include, but are not limited to, the following:

➢ Shelter and Non-Food Items (NFI): According to the MSNA findings, the most reported shelter issue for both HHs in a refugee-like situation and hosting HHs was lack of space. In comparison to the other marzes, Syunik presented an exception as the lack of space, and shelter issues more broadly, were the least commonly reported. In addition,
Syunik was the marz where the highest percentage (72%) of hosting HHs reported that they not only share accommodation, but also share their incomes with people in a refugee-like situation. Overall, 85% of HHs in a refugee-like situation did not plan to move or were unable to communicate what their intentions were. In terms of possibilities of return, only 12% reported that their shelter in the AoO does not need any kind of repair. In Gegharkunik, a relatively high proportion of HHs in a refugee-like situation (33%) reported that their shelter did not need repairs, while all HHs in a refugee-like situation interviewed in Syunik reported that at least some shelter repairs were needed.

➢ Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH): Findings demonstrated that the main source of drinking water for both hosting HHs and HHs in a refugee-like situation is tap water. In Armavir, 18% of hosting HHs and 12% of HHs in a refugee-like situation reported bottled water as their main source of drinking water. For hosting HHs in Vayots Dzor, only 18% indicated that they have no needs, while the highest proportion of HHs reporting having no WASHrelated needs was found in Yerevan (53%) and Gegharkunik (52%)․ The most commonly reported WASH-related needs were the following (in descending order): washing powder for clothes, soap, cleaning liquid for the house, and detergent for dishes. Overall, 45% of the hosting HHs and 22% of HHs in a refugee-like situation reported having no WASH-related needs.

➢ Protection: Results showed that 20% of the HHs in a refugee like situations are caring for unrelated minors and 33% of hosting HHs reported similar childcare arrangements. In most cases, these minors were being taken care of due to the security situation and requests from parents. Data collected on safety perceptions demonstrates 95% of the hosting HHs reported feeling safe in their current city or town. In Syunik, the proportion of hosting HHs who reported feeling either somewhat or very unsafe was relatively high (6% reported feeling not safe at all), however the majority (69%) reported that they feel very safe. Regarding financial security, approximately half (52%) of both hosting HHs and HHs in a refugee like situation reported having debts. The average reported debt of those HHs with debts was 1,2 million Armenian Dram (AMD) (approx. 2,500 United States Dollar (USD)). The highest reported HH debt translated to 4,700 USD. Particularly in Vayots Dzor, a high proportion (79%) of hosting HHs reported having debts.

➢ Food Security: For the majority (60%) of HHs in a refugee-like situation, one of the main sources of food was food distributions. Overall, 73% of HHs in a refugee-like situation and 49% of hosting HHs reported that the conflict had reduced their ability to purchase food. In addition, 14% of HHs in a refugee-like situation and 11% of hosting HHs reported that they had experienced not having enough money to buy food at least once in the week prior to data collection and that they subsequently had to limit their portions. This coping mechanism was mainly implemented by the adult members of the HH, instead of adolescents and children. Hosting HHs were generally found to have more diverse diets as opposed to HHs in a refugee-like situation. Hosting HHs were found to have higher Food Consumption Scores (FCS), with only 3% with a “borderline” FCS and a mere 0.5% with a “poor” FCS. In comparison; 4% of HHs in a refugee-like situation had a “poor” and 12% a “borderline” FCS. Kotayk was found to be the marz with the highest percentage of HHs in a refugee-like situation in “poor” (6%) and “borderline” (25%) categories.

➢ Livelihoods: MSNA findings suggested a precarious employment situation for HHs in a refugee-like situation, since only 11% of them reported that any of their HH members had found a job since arrival in their current location. In addition, 27% of HHs in a refugee-like situation reported having no source of income at the time of data collection, while 30% and 26% of HHs in a refugee-like situation reported social protection and pensions to be their primary source of income, respectively. However, the majority (72%) of HHs in a refugee-like situation reported being able to receive their full pensions and social assistance after having relocated to the RA. Among hosting HHs, less than half (41%) reported formal paid work to be their primary source of income.

➢ Education: Most of the hosting HHs (68%) and HHs in a refugee-like situation (73%) reported having school-aged children. Both groups were found to have almost the same percentage of school-age children enrolled in formal education (82% hosting and 81% HHs in a refugee-like situation). Among HHs in a refugee-like situation with schoolaged children, only 5% reported that none of the children in the HH were attending school at the time of data collection, compared to 10% of hosting HHs. The conflict situation was the most commonly reported barrier to education for those HH with school-aged children not attending school. It was reported by almost half (49%) of HHs in a refugee-like situation and 42% of hosting HHs with children not going to school. Among those 43% of HHs in a refugee-like situation with school-aged children, nearly half (40%) reported that their children did not have the necessary school supplies for education.

➢ Health: Findings suggested persistent health needs among both hosting HHs and HHs in a refugee-like situation. Almost half (46%) of hosting HHs and 44% of HHs in a refugee-like situation reported that at least one HH member had needed specialized health care in their current location within the two months prior to data collection. However, among those HHs, 31% of hosting HHs and 45% of HHs in a refugee-like situation reported not having been able to contact or visit a local healthcare provider. In parallel, 11% of hosting HHs and 13% of HHs in a refugee-like situation reported having faced problems accessing health care services in their current location in the two months prior to data collection. Among them, 73% of HHs in a refugee-like situation and 46% of hosting HHs respectively reported not being able to afford costs of healthcare as a main barrier. More than one third (36%) of HHs in a refugee-like situation reported having been able to continue receiving free medication after relocation to the RA, while 12% reported not being aware of this option. 80% of HHs in a refugee-like situation were unaware of any mental health services available nearby, this proportion was particularly high in Syunik marz (91%).

➢ COVID-19: Regarding the pandemic, 85% of both hosting HHs and HHs in a refugee-like situation reported that all their HH members have taken actions to prevent themselves from getting COVID-19.