GENEVA — On October 2-6, the 68th session of the Executive Committee of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) takes place in Geneva, with the participation of the Armenian delegation headed by Deputy Foreign Minister Ashot Hovakimian.

Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees made opening remarks at the session.

Deputy Foreign Minister Ashot Hovakimian in his speech reaffirmed Armenia’s support for the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants and touched upon global challenges with regards to refugees, emphasizing Armenia’s willingness to continue the effective cooperation with the office of the High Commissioner towards addressing the needs of displaced persons and providing the necessary assistance to refugees and asylum seekers.

Deputy Foreign Minister touched upon the problem of Armenian refugees who migrated from Azerbaijan, who were forced to leave their homes and become refugees due to the policy of ethnic cleansing pursued by Azerbaijan. Deputy Minister also condemned Azerbaijan’s aggression against Artsakh in the beginning of April last year, which was accompanied by gross violations of international humanitarian law.

Ashot Hovakimian also touched upon the problem of refugees from Syria, noting that Armenia provided shelter to about twenty two thousand refugees, making our country on per capita basis the third largest recipient of Syrian refugees among states in Europe. Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs highly appreciated the close cooperation between the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Armenia and the Armenian authorities in receiving and integrating refugees.

Deputy Foreign Minister noted that, in addition to efforts of the Armenian authorities, a support of the international community and donor organizations is needed.

Responding to the statement of the Armenian delegation, High Commissioner Filippo Grandi expressed gratitude for receiving a large number of refugees from Syria.

Deputy Foreign Minister Ashot Hovakimyan had a meeting with Olga Algayerova, the newly appointed Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (ECE). In the course of the meeting both sides expressed satisfaction with the level of stable cooperation between Armenia and the UN ECE and the successful course of a number of programmes. Ashot Hovakimian noted that Armenia takes active steps in conforming the country’s further development to the Sustainable Development Goals agenda.

Ashot Hovakimian also had a meeting with George William Okoth-Obbo, UNHCR’s Assistant High Commissioner for Operations, with whom they discussed a number of issues related to receiving refugees in Armenia and their further integration into the socio-economic life of the country.

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