9 October 2020 - Armenia, Azerbaijan

THOUSANDS OF CHILDREN FLEE AS CONFLICT IN NAGORNO-KARABAKH CONTINUES TO ESCALATE

Statement

Save the Children is deeply concerned about the situation of thousands of children who are streaming into Armenia after escaping the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh.

The daily number of arrivals is only likely to increase as the security situation continues to deteriorate for a second week. Hostels, schools and kindergartens in some Armenian cities and villages are overcrowded after opening their doors to shelter people fleeing the violence, mainly women and children.

Maria*, who gave birth two days after arriving in Armenia, said My childhood was during a war. My other child is eight but has already witnessed two wars. Now my baby has been born during a war – so what is a happy childhood?”

Many children arriving are separated from their parents, as they were sent to stay with extended family or friends on the Armenian side of the border, Save the Children said.

Suzanna*, a seven-year-old girl who arrived in Goris, in south Armenia, said: “I want to see my father. Is it safe here? Will there be no shooting here?”

“The stories people tell are very worrying: a grandmother arrived with 14 children who were entrusted to her by their parents because they were desperate to keep their children safe by sending them to Armenia”, said Irina Saghoyan, Save the Children’s Director for Eastern Europe.

“Many children will have seen or heard the violence; they are scared and possibly traumatised. They might have even lost loved ones. This will have a deep impact on their mental wellbeing.”

With winter approaching and the temperature is already dropping; children are arriving in need of shelter, food and clothing.

Save the Children is calling for the immediate cessation of hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh and for the safety and protection of civilians, particularly children, to be prioritised, in line with international humanitarian law and the rules of war. As conflicts around the world have shown, children are always the main victims, and that must not be allowed to happen in Nagorno-Karabakh.

We have spokespeople available. Kindly reach out to:

Ahmed Bayram, Ahmed.Bayram@savethechildren.org / +961 71 562 855

Rik Goverde, rik.goverde@savethechildren.org / +44 (0) 7732 602 301

Out-of-hours: Media@savethechildren.org.uk / +44 7831 650 409