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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U. N. Office in Azerbaijan Assists Victims of Clash

BAKU, Azerbaijan -- The United Nations has set up shop here to help the nearly quarter of a million Azerbaijanis who have fled fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the last four years.


As hostilities fueled by centuries-old animosities continue, another 15, 000 Azerbaijanis have fled areas surrounding the disputed enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh in the last month alone, according to Michael Alford, a Geneva-based New Zealander directing the program for the U. N. High Commissioner for Refugees.


The $2 million dollar relief program, set up last month, is providing blankets and materials to build temporary shelters for some of the 216, 000 refugees from the Nagorno-Karabakh area, Alford said. Food packages are also expected to be delivered soon, he added. The UNHCR set up the Baku office in eight days, said Alford.


The UNHCR is also helping the international humanitarian group Medecins Sans Frontieres improve water lines near Nagorno-Karabakh, where thousands of families are living in stables that are mainly underground and intended for cattle, the U. N. official said.


In Baku, displaced people are living in impromptu shelters -- with up to 2, 000 people per shelter -- in schools and other buildings.


"Nobody is dying yet", Alford said.


"They'll get through this winter but they'll have nothing. left for the next one".


The UNHCR currently runs relief operations in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Tajikistan. It maintains an office in Moscow.