On January 22, the Center for Eurasian, Russian and East European Studies (CERES) at Georgetown University held a public lecture on “Economic Migrants and Displaced People in Azerbaijan”. CERES directs one of preeminent Master`s degree programs and hosts a rich outreach program on events on the area from central Europe to the Pacific to the Mediterranean, Black and Caspian Seas. It is a National Resource Center funded by the US Department of Education and provides a broad and deep understanding of Eurasian, Russia, East European affairs to audiences at Georgetown and throughout the Washington community.
The presenter Jennifer Wistrand, a Research Scholar at the Kennan Institute of Woodrow Wilson Center, spoke on involuntary migrations in Soviet Union and post-independence movement of peoples in Caucasus and Central Asia. Her main topic was the economic and forced migrations in Azerbaijan. Ms Wistrand who spent 22 months in Baku and Ujar, and visited refugee camps and towns, underlined the difficulties that the IDP population of Azerbaijan has been facing since being forced out from their homes in Karabakh.
Among the issues discussed were the mental health problems and depression, caused by the trauma of Armenian aggression in the native places of their residence, which are currently under military occupation. Even though the ceasefire was signed in 1994, the conflict remains unresolved. “For the parties the conflict is not resolved, especially for Azerbaijan since Armenia still occupies Karabakh and surrounding regions.”, noted the scholar. Ms Wistrand also remarked on the enormous work that the government has done in improving the lives of internally displaced persons in Azerbaijan and reduction of poverty in the last decade. The presentation was followed by a questions and answers session.
The event will took place at Edward B. Bunn Intercultural Center of Georgetown University. A similar event will be held at the Kennan Institute on February 11.Republic of Azerbaijan which has suffered from military aggression of neighboring Armenia and has 16% of its internationally recognized territory under Armenian occupation, has the largest refugee/IDP population per capita in the world. Close to 600 thousand people out of nearly one million Azerbaijani refugees are recognized as internally displaced persons (IDPs) in their own country.