Humanitarian Aid in Nagorno-KarabakhNagorno-Karabakh is a region in the country Azerbaijan and is home to an Armenian majority. While the region is within Azerbaijan’s borders, Armenia has claimed the region for itself. The first intense conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh region was in 1988 when the Soviet Union was nearing the end of its existence. Recently, conflict in the region began again in late September 2020 and lasted for about a  month until a ceasefire was brokered by Russia. Additional ceasefires were brought into fruition by France with the help of Russia and the United States. Despite the ceasefires, the conflict in the region is continuing. The fighting in the region has drastically impacted the civilian population of the region. This has in turn created a strong need for humanitarian aid in Nagorno-Karabakh.

The European Union Assists

The European Union (EU) is actively providing aid to the civilian populace affected by the conflict and has done so since early October 2020. The initial amount of aid provided by the EU was €900,000. Then, in November, the EU commissioned an additional €3 million to the civilians in the Nagorno-Karabakh region. According to the EU, this humanitarian aid will provide the necessary assistance that humanitarian organizations partnered with the EU need to carry out their duties. This includes providing food, winter clothing and medical assistance.

The United States’ Aid

The United States is also providing its share of financial assistance. In total, the United States has provided around $10 million in humanitarian assistance to Armenia and Azerbaijan since the 2019 fiscal year. Of the $10 million, $5 million has been allocated to the International Committee of the Red Cross and similar humanitarian organizations to help civilians caught in the crossfire of the conflict. Assistance coming from the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) will also be used for humanitarian aid in Nagorno-Karabakh. The support these two institutions will be providing will come in the form of food, shelter and medical support for the people impacted by the conflict.

People in Need

There are also NGOs that have provided humanitarian aid in Nagorno-Karabakh as well. One organization, People in Need, has done just this. People in Need is an organization dedicated to providing immediate aid to countries should a natural disaster or war take place.

People in Need has provided support, not to Nagorno-Karabakh, but to the city of Goris in Armenia. People in Need directed its humanitarian aid to this Armenian city because many of the displaced civilians in Nagorno-Karabakh have gone there for refuge. The displaced people either move on or stay in the city. People in Need have been able to provide hygienic supplies to 1,200 displaced families in Goris. Additionally, People in Need have provided 480 children, 600 women and 110 seniors with their own individual hygienic kits. People in Need have also taken into consideration the psychosocial needs of children impacted by the conflict. To help these children, People in Need opened a child-friendly space in the city library where children can engage with other children and partake in other activities.

While the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh continues, international institutions, individual countries and humanitarian organizations are trying to provide all the support possible to help the civilians impacted by the conflict.

– Jacob E. Lee
Photo: Flickr

homelessness in azerbaijanDespite Azerbaijan’s abundance of resources, homelessness in Azerbaijan became a major crisis as a result of the Nagorno-Karabakh War. Due to this war between Azerbaijan and Armenia, nearly 1 million people in Azerbaijan became internally displaced refugees. The combat operations waged by both sides resulted in massive calamities for Azerbaijan. This conflict caused the displacement of many on both sides, including 240,000 refugees from Armenia. It contributed significantly to the problem of homelessness in Azerbaijan.

Not Just the War

Those displaced or made refugees by the Nagorno-Karabakh war are unfortunately just one dimension of homelessness in Azerbaijan. Street children are another common complication, contributing to the issue. There are around 80,000 children facing homelessness in Azerbaijan, though many think the real number is higher. Many of these children are exploited through violations of internationally recognized child labor laws, experiencing sex trafficking and street begging, among other forms of exploitation. A number of them become homeless after leaving government-sponsored orphanages and tend to be more exposed to forms of human trafficking and child exploitation. Some of these children come from troubled homes or lead troubled lives while others are simply the displaced or refugees of the Nagorno-Karabakh War.

Complications Lead to More Problems

Many street children face increased health risks due to the nature of their work. According to Dr. Dadashova, “The street children who earn money washing old cars can inhale toxic fumes.” Dadashova believes that these children tend to be more susceptible to blood diseases. Adding to these problems, Azerbaijan doesn’t appear to have a robust state-sponsored system in place for the adult homeless population. Moreover, the government has engaged in many illegal evictions and demolitions that have worsened the problem of homelessness in Azerbaijan and drawn condemnation from major human rights groups.

The Silver Lining

The government did pass a law in 2005 that was meant to combat the problem of child homelessness in Azerbaijan. Additionally, the government has undertaken further, major initiatives to integrate the internally displaced and refugees from the Nagorno-Karabakh War, through investments in housing. According to the Crisis Group, the government has helped in significantly reducing homelessness in Azerbaijan by moving around 108,000 displaced people into housing and constructing more housing for an additional 115,00 people. When it comes to the larger problem of homelessness, the government has built a temporary shelter in the Zabrat settlement of the Sabunchi district. Here, the government plans to keep those in need for six months, after which the homeless will be resettled in either nursing homes or permanent homeless shelters. In 2014 the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection of Population created a shelter in the same region for children, with amenities like a dining room and swimming pool.

However, Azerbaijan is known for strong social bonds. According to Anar Valiyev from the Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI), “Networks amongst these people allow newcomers to reduce transaction costs in terms of finding housing and jobs or solving immediate practical problems. Thanks to bonding social capital, the phenomenon of homelessness, typical of big cities, is almost unknown in Azerbaijan.”

Mustafa Ali
Photo: Flickr

nonprofits in ArmeniaSince Armenia has only been an independent country for less than 30 years, its economy has been slow-building. As of 2017, Armenia has a 29.8 percent poverty rate. The landscape of nonprofits in Armenia is a good example of how diverse strategies can contribute to the reduction of poverty. Here are the top five nonprofits in Armenia.

Top 5 Nonprofits in Armenia

  1. AGBU
    • What they do: The Armenian General Benevolent Union works to promote Armenian heritage around the world.
    • Who they serve: AGBU serves all Armenians by bringing attention to the country for its unique culture. At the same time, AGBU fundraises for causes, like Artsakh. Moreover, AGBU organizes women empowerment programs, work to improve medical care and support local farmers.
    • For more information, read about AGBU here.
  2. Eevah
    • What they do: Eevah aims to feed 33,000 hungry children around the world by 2020. The sale of handmade jewelry funds Eevah’s presence in Armenia. By combining creativity, fashion and charity, Eevah exemplifies how to utilize local talent to enact change.
    • Who they serve: Eevah serves children suffering from hunger around the world.
    • For more information, read about Eevah here.
  3. World Vision
    • What they do: World Vision identifies and eradicates root causes of poverty to benefit the lives of children across. To do so, World Vision empowers communities to become self-sufficient and sustainable.
    • Who they serve: To date, World Vision has helped over 200 million children in poverty. In Armenia, they focus on ensuring children live happy childhoods through programs enriching home and school life. Additionally, they put together clothing drives to provide warm clothes to families in need during the winter.
    • For more information, read about World Vision here.
  4. Air Serv International, Inc.
    • What they do: Air Serv provides safe transportation for people escaping vulnerable and dangerous areas. Accordingly, Air Serv transports them to humanitarian organizations for help.
    • Who they serve: In April 2019, Air Serv transported 1,061 passengers into relief spaces. They are present in Armenia and surrounding countries like Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Georgia. Moreover, they have worked with the World Food Programme to provide food to Armenia and its neighbors during times of war and conflict.
    • For more information, read about Air Serve here.
    • What they do: ACDI/VOCA fights to implement capacity-building projects across the globe. Specifically, they focus on economic advancement to help communities thrive through local programs.
    • Who they serve: In Armenia, ACDI/VOCA has supported innovative growing projects for 60,000 farmers. As a result, these programs benefit local efforts and bolster the agricultural industry. They also supported programming to provide $7 million in loans to Armenian farmers.
    • For more information, read about ACDI/VOCA here.

A labor force migration, weak agricultural system and unemployment drive Armenia’s poverty rate. However, the creativity of local and global nonprofits help provide relief to the 29.8 percent of Armenians who live in poverty. These nonprofits in Armenia prove the many ways communities can benefit from the work of like-minded individuals who want to eradicate poverty.

Ava Gambero
Photo: Flickr

Water Quality in ArmeniaArmenia is a landlocked country west of Turkey and is one of the world’s earliest Christian civilizations, with churches dating back to the fourth century. Armenia has been controlled by various nations and empires over the centuries despite periods of independence. It most recently gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 and joined the Eurasian Economic Union in 2015.

There were large investments in water projects during the Soviet era, but because of poor workmanship and irregular maintenance, the water quality in Armenia suffered. Additionally, a lack of funding after the Soviet-era necessitated major repairs, and upgrades were almost entirely halted. Decades of neglect of the water and wastewater systems caused water to leak and be wasted. Citizens had limited access to water, and the water they had access to was often unhealthy.

Despite this, between 2003 and 2013 significant legislation and institutional reforms were introduced to improve water quality in Armenia. Two projects financed by the World Bank have improved the water quality in Armenia as well as access to it. Thanks to these projects, 332,000 households have gained access to running water 21 hours a day.

The World Bank reported that the Armenian government has partnered with the private sector, and today the country’s water is well regulated and more efficient as a result. Water quality in Armenia began to improve after a private company was placed in charge of the utility company.

In the city of Yerevan, most of the pumping stations are new and efficient, using 40 percent less energy, which saves on electrical costs. Rebuilt wells have reduced operating costs and losses. Nine water sources have had new chlorination stations built or the old ones fixed. Improvements like these have helped resolve issues with the water quality in Armenia, which has bettered the lives of many residents.

Fernando Vazquez

Photo: Flickr

As one of the earliest Christian civilizations, Armenia holds steadfast to countless traditions, including those rooted in dance, music, art and cuisine. Disappointingly, Armenia’s customs come with a bleak history of deficiency and shortage. 32 percent of Armenians live an underprivileged lifestyle. Non-government organizations have been working to decrease this large percentage and address many other issues within the country. These three NGOs offer more insight into learning how to help people in Armenia.

KASA Swiss Humanitarian Foundation
For almost 20 years, KASA has been supporting impoverished Armenians through the contribution of material aid, training opportunities and developmental tools. Education alongside communication allows KASA to promote a civil society and sustainable growth. This NGO is currently involved in three projects, with their most popular one titled Sponsored Families. Every year, 20 to 25 Armenian families struggling with illness, unemployment and inadequate housing are supported through Sponsored Families. KASA strongly encourages others to help people in Armenia by funding these families. The organization also prospers via volunteer efforts, organizing collaborated events and spreading the word.

Full Life
Originated due to civic responsibility, Full Life works for equal rights for the 6.2 percent of Armenians struggling with disabilities. Their involvement goes beyond advocacy and public awareness through the implementation of multiple programs. A recent project included employment of people with disabilities in the livestock sector. This project is certainly a priority when one considers the 35.2 percent poverty rate among Armenian households with no employed members. Full Life seeks most of its support through volunteer work and contributions. They also build awareness through various campaigns and encourage the public to join their mission of equal opportunity.

Peace Dialogue
Like many other countries around the world, Armenia has experienced its fair share of conflict. A prime example is a disagreement with their neighbor Azerbaijan over the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. Ethnic clashes date back centuries, with tension between the two countries still existing. Peace Dialogue studies conflict and unites experienced human rights defenders to promote peace-building initiatives. Over the course of 2015-2016, Peace Dialogue has been involved in seven projects. The programs ranged from reducing corruption risk in public transportation to using artistic means for human rights protection. Much of Peace Dialogue’s assistance is generated through sponsors, but they accept help in the form of donations as well. Involvement is also stimulated by their online presence where they feature articles, research and annual reports.

Helping people in Armenia begins with looking at what the country needs. Many of Armenia’s goals relate to poverty reduction, equal rights and peace. Successful NGO outcomes require more than subsidies to see results. Management and large-scale immersion are also crucial to successful function. Each NGO mentioned offers three methods of participation: funding, volunteerism and public understanding. If you are unable to share your money or time, exchanging thoughts on Armenia’s issues over social media is an excellent way to get the ball rolling.

Emilee Wessel

Photo: Flickr

Common Diseases in ArmeniaThe Republic of Armenia is a mountainous, landlocked country between the Black Sea and Caspian Sea in the Southern Caucasus. It is densely populated, with more than three billion people. The country is known to battle several diseases and health risk factors. Below are four common diseases in Armenia and how the country is working to combat them.

Cardiovascular Diseases

Current data reveals cardiovascular diseases affect 50.5 percent of the population in Armenia. The majority of people affected by cardiovascular problems have ischemic heart disease, which affects 80 percent of males and females between 30 and 34 years of age. Between 1990 and 2013 alone, ischemic heart disease killed about 317 people out of every 100,000, and its mortality rate increased by 53 percent since 1990. Stroke is the second most common cardiovascular disease, which claimed 129 lives out of every 100,000 between 1990 and 2013. Hypertensive heart disease is the third most deadly cardiovascular disease, as its mortality rate has increased by 75 percent since 1990. These diseases make up 94.3 percent of all years of healthy life lost in Armenia in 2013. A study by the World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended that at least 80 percent of cardiovascular risks like heart disease, stroke and diabetes could be prevented by eating healthy and exercising regularly, as more than 60 percent of both Armenia’s male and female populations were overweight as of 2015.


The next most common illness in Armenia is cancer, specifically lung, breast, stomach, colon, liver, pancreatic, bladder and prostate cancers. A report from 2013 shows that 20.8 percent of deaths that year were from cancer in both males and females. The deadliest were lung, bronchial and tracheal cancer, which claimed the lives of 42.5 people out of every 100,000. Cancer made up almost one-third of deaths between 2000 and 2012. Fortunately, according to a WHO statistical report in 2012, the death rate for breast, colon and stomach cancers had decreased since 2000, each claiming less than two percent of lives. Because Armenia is a WHO European region – which designates at least $2,000 total expenditure on health per capita – continued funding for the health sector could rectify the problem of high rates of diagnosed cancers.


Another prevalent disease in Armenia is tuberculosis (TB). Data show that in 2015, about 1,104 total cases of TB were diagnosed. Most people diagnosed with TB also have HIV; when paired together these are more deadly than a TB diagnosis alone, as HIV causes a lowered immune system which can spread TB faster throughout the body. In 2015, all noted TB cases were in patients with HIV status, and 41 out of every 100,000 people who died were both TB and HIV positive. Despite these concerning numbers, Armenia is taking practical and effective steps in TB treatment and funding for the disease. More than 60 percent of HIV-positive TB patients received successful treatment between 2012 and 2014, and new and relapse cases of TB saw an approximate 80 percent treatment success rate. In 2015, about 14 percent of HIV-positive people were enrolled in TB preventative treatment. Further, Armenia is currently financed in 55 percent domestic and 45 percent international TB treatment as of 2016.


In 2011, WHO European Region in partnership with Influenza Division International Activities released an annual report detailing Armenia’s implementation of influenza surveillance systems. The U.S. CDC noted that Armenia completed all five years of the Surveillance and Response to Pandemic and Avian Influenza agreement in order to combat rampant annual flu outbreaks in the country. Armenia achieved a number of goals under this agreement, including adding laboratory and diagnostic means of detecting active avian and human influenza, running sentinel surveillance of outbreaks, doing appropriate specimen testing during the influenza season and updating a small library with relevant scientific documents and participating in regional and international conferences and workshops. Influenza surveillance sites have been established in three hospitals in the capital city of Yerevan, and in five hospitals in the cities of Vanadzor and Kapan. As of 2011, all but one surveillance lab was completely functional, proving influenza prevention and treatment may be on its way to becoming more successful.

These common diseases in Armenia are clearly being met with much action and compassion from both inside the country and outside. With continued efforts to alleviate the burden of disease and educate the population, Armenia is headed in the right direction.

Olivia Cyr

Photo: Flickr

Why Is Armenia PoorLocated in West Asia, Armenia is a landlocked country with approximately 3 million people. From 2004 to 2015, the poverty rate in Armenia declined by 44 percent. Unfortunately, the country continues to struggle despite this improvement. The Asian Development Bank reports about 30 percent of Armenians are still surviving below poverty lines. Below are statistics that might answer the question: “Why is Armenia poor?”

  1. The first answer behind “why is Armenia poor?” has roots in the global economic crisis of 2008. This disaster delayed Armenia’s progress towards ending poverty. During the crisis, the country suffered a 5.9 percent economic recession and only 6.9 percent annual GDP growth. It wasn’t until 2013 that Armenia began to see small improvements with economic development. Today, growth exists, but it is very slow, with a GDP gain of about 3 percent.
  2. According to the Armenian Poverty Profile conducted from 2008 to 2015, the risk of poverty appears to be directly related to household size. This is because larger households have more children. In Armenia, homes with three or more children below 6 years of age have a 60 percent risk of experiencing poverty.
  3. In comparison to male-headed households, female-headed households are more likely to be poor. Almost 30 percent of the poor population resides in a female-headed home. This simply means that women can not support their families when they are the only source of income.
  4. People with higher education are less likely to be poor in Armenia. The poverty rate is the lowest among those with tertiary education. The rate was around 1.8 times lower than the national average for the population over 16 years of age in 2015.
  5. The final answer to “why is Armenia poor?” relates to labor markets. Lack of employment increases the risk of being poor or extremely poor. In 2015, the poverty rate among households with no employed members was 35.2 percent. This was 6.5 percentage points higher than the national average.

Armenia is in an endless battle to defeat poverty due to five main facts. These include the global economic crisis, larger households, female-run homes, lack of education and high unemployment rates. The country has been working with the World Bank to identify key challenges and opportunities associated with reducing Armenia’s poverty rates. Participation from this organization provides hope for sustainable growth, shared prosperity and poverty reduction in Armenia.

Emilee Wessel

Photo: Pixabay

In 2014, water quality in Armenia was less than satisfactory. Some of the water infrastructures had not been touched since the Soviet era, but after governmental efforts and investments from entities like the World Bank, today water quality in Armenia is now abundant and clean.

Before the investments transformed the water quality in Armenia, the head of the National Water Cooperation, a non-governmental organization, indicated that water pollution and supplying people with clean water were the two biggest challenges. Compared to a decade ago, added Arevik Hovsepyan, who heads the NGO, the level of water pollution had grown because of lack of governmental control.

After years of neglect, the government finally stepped in to improve leaking municipal water and wastewater systems and extend hours of delivery for running water. The cost to upgrade the water infrastructure, which had deteriorated over time and resulted in water losses of over 85 percent — one of the worst in the world — was estimated at $179 million.

The World Bank stepped in with assistance that resulted in 330,000 homes having 21 hours of running water a day, an increase from six hours, as well as improved water delivery and quality, and new pumping stations that decreased the amount of energy used by 40 percent. Other improvements included rebuilding and minimizing operation costs and water losses, as well as, refurbishing chlorination stations.

With these new improvements to water quality in Armenia, the country now has adequate water for drinking, irrigation, and industrial use throughout the country. In addition, the issues that had arisen from poor workmanship during the Soviet era have been improved. More than half of water loss from leaks were fixed, 70 percent of the distribution system was replaced, and the availability of running water increased to nearly 24 hours a day. In addition, the drinking water pollution and inaccessibility is at 28.91 percent while general water pollution comes in at 35.48 percent, both considered low on the scale.

With improving water quality in Armenia, the country will continue to find solutions to give all citizens access to adequate water, improve water delivery and maintain city pipelines.

Amira Wynn

Photo: Flickr

The country of Armenia, or the Republic of Armenia, is a sovereign state in the South Caucus region bordered by Turkey to the west, Georgia to the north, Azerbaijan to the east and Iran to the south. The Armenians are a rich and storied people dating back to antiquity.

Armenia has acted as a purely autonomous region since regaining independence from the Soviet Union after the fall of the communist party. Since the dissolution of the USSR, Armenia has had difficulties in maintaining quality healthcare for certain diseases due to a difficult transition from a centrally planned to a market economy. Due to this new economic redirection, the current healthcare system skews more toward funding hospital interventions, leaving little funding for community projects. Because of this, various communicable and non-communicable diseases have had a major impact on the people in this region. Here is a list of the top diseases in Armenia.

Non-communicable diseases

Like many countries in Europe, the most common cause of death due to illness is non-communicable diseases. Some of these diseases include cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease and musculoskeletal conditions. These all add up to a substantial fatality rate in the nation. Approximately 50 percent of deaths were caused by cardiovascular diseases and 74 percent resulted from combined symptoms (cardiovascular, neoplasms and diabetes mellitus) in 2013.


Malaria is a disease spread by infectious mosquitos. It exhibits symptoms such as fever, vomiting and fatigue and can be fatal. Armenia was given malaria-free status in 2011 but has had a difficult time fighting the disease throughout the years. Thousands of people were infected between 1920 and 1930, and 200,000 cases were reported in 1934. Armenia was given malaria-free status in 1963 after years of fighting the disease. After the dissolution of the USSR, however, malaria resurfaced in 1994 and numbers peaked at 1156 in 1998. Cases have steadily decreased since, but malaria and yellow fever are still the top diseases in Armenia to look out for on the Center for Disease Control travel page.

Familial Mediterranean Fever

One of the top diseases in Armenia, Familial Mediterranean Fever (FMF) is hereditary and only affects individuals from the region. This disease is most common in people with Sephardic Jewish, Armenian, Arab and Turkish backgrounds. People infected generally exhibit recurrent cases of fever, abdominal inflammation, lung inflammation, swollen joints and a characteristic ankle rash. Severe cases of the disease can cause inflammation surrounding the heart (pericarditis) and swelling of the membrane surrounding the brain or spinal cord (meningitis). According to a report from the National Human Genome Research Institute, approximately one in every 200 people with one of these particular backgrounds has FMF. There is currently no cure for the disease.

Though there is still much work to do, Armenia has made significant strides in retooling its healthcare system. With the implementation of positive reforms, these top diseases in Armenia could be controlled or eliminated in the future.

Drew Hazzard

Photo: Flickr

In Armenia, schools are essential for cultural survival and are highly valued with 1,600 years of literary history. The government spends about 3 percent of its annual GDP on education and has passed new laws to help increase educational standards. Armenia has found some success improving education standards and is continuing to find solutions to other educational issues.

Here are five facts you may not know about education in Armenia:

  1. 77 percent of teachers in primary schools are professionally trained. The government is attempting to increase the number of experienced school teachers by raising their monthly wages, which are below the national average. In 2005, their wages went up 65 percent, but many teachers today are still offering private tutoring in order to supplement their teaching income.
  2. Armenia ranks 59th in the world in primary school enrollment. Part of the problem with enrollment for education in Armenia is the fact that there are 18,000 children who are not enrolled in primary school. Most of the un-enrolled children are boys and they end up working to help their families, sometimes earning more than Armenian teachers.
  3. Dropout rates in Armenia are rising by 250 percent per year. Armenia’s dropout rates are low compared to neighboring countries, but the fast rise is alarming. However, the government is committed to improving education by ensuring access to a quality education for all Armenians regardless of gender, race, ethnicity and income level.
  4. 47 percent of Armenians have access to the internet, compared to only 6.4 percent in 2009. The country now ranks 61st in the world for internet access, which is crucial to the continued growth of education in Armenia.
  5. Disabled school children have limited access to education: There are about 8,500 disabled children in Armenia, and only a few of them are able to attend school. UNICEF has helped increase educational programs for children with special needs by enrolling 250 students in 18 inclusive kindergartens and 257 in 14 inclusive schools.

In 2014, the World Bank announced that they will provide $30 million for the Education Improvement Project in Armenia. Reforms taking place include implementing new educational standards and a new national curriculum and extending the educational system to include grade 12; these steps are vital to building a successful and competitive educational system in Armenia. The project will also help 12,000 children living in poverty in rural areas and boost development for electronic content.

Donald Gering

Sources: Internet World Stats, Social Progress Imperative, UNESCO, UNICEF, World Bank
Photo: Open Source Foundation