Baku – The decision by Azerbaijan’s State Migration Services to begin providing travel documents to refugees has been warmly welcomed by the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
Since the start of February, Azerbaijan has been issuing travel-related documents to non-citizens—including asylum seekers, refugees and stateless persons—in accordance with the 1951 UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees*.
“These documents will ensure individual development, equal rights and freedom of movement for refugees and stateless persons residing in Azerbaijan,” explained Vladimir Gjorgjiev, Chief of Mission, IOM Azerbaijan, affirming this is an important step towards refugee integration and social cohesion in the country.
“Now they can travel outside Azerbaijan and return back to Azerbaijan for family, business, education, health. Or for any other other reason,” Gjorgjiev added.
A first batch of 10 out of 83 refugees received the documents at a ceremony in the capital Baku last week.
Azerbaijan’s State Migration Service is one of IOM’s prime partners in the south Caucasus country, and its Chief, Vusal Huseynov, said that travel-related document will give refugees and other qualifying non-citizens and their families the right to move beyond the borders of Azerbaijan. “The document is valid for five years. If during these five years a refugee has no problems, he or she can reapply for it,” Huseynov explained.
Habiba Adelzadeh, a refugee from Afghanistan who received the document was overjoyed to be among the first ten to receive one. “Thanks to this document now I will be able to travel to visit my family and friends.”
*Article 28 of the 1951 Refugee Convention provides that:
“The Contracting States shall issue to refugees lawfully staying in their territory travel documents for the purpose of travel outside their territory unless compelling reasons of national security or public order otherwise require, and the provisions of the Schedule to this Convention shall apply with respect to such documents. The Contracting States may issue such a travel document to any other refugee in their territory; they shall in particular give sympathetic consideration to the issue of such a travel document to refugees in their territory who are unable to obtain a travel document from the country of their lawful residence.”
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