YEREVAN — Hundreds of refugees from Nagorno-Karabakh demonstrated in Yerevan on Wednesday to demand that Armenia’s government expand its aid programs for them and seek international security guarantees for their return to their homeland.

The rally was organized by Karabakh civic organizations and public figures that emphasized its nonpartisan character. Their joint statement read out by one of the speakers singled out the housing needs of the refugees and criticized a government plan to help them obtain permanent homes in Armenia.

Under the tentative plan outlined by Deputy Prime Minister Tigran Khachatrian last month, the government will finance the purchase or construction by refugees of new homes in mostly rural areas. The funding will be set at 3 million drams ($7,400) per person. It would constitute a grant for Karabakh children and pensioners and a loan for the other refugees.

The statement adopted during the rally said that the Armenian government must increase the housing funding levels and not demand its repayment. It said the government should also continue paying monthly compensations to refugees renting apartments or houses.

Since November, refugees who do not own a home or live in a government shelter have received 50,000 drams ($125) per month to pay rent and utility bills. The aid program expires at the end of this month.

The Armenian government plans to extend its program of monetary support for people forcibly displaced from Nagorno-Karabakh through the end of the year.

The organizers of the rally further urged Yerevan to strive for “international protection mechanisms” for a collective repatriation of the Karabakh Armenians.

“Any Azerbaijani rule there must be ruled out because that would be genocidal rule,” said one of them, former Karabakh premier Artak Beglaryan.

“At the moment, I don’t see a realistic chance of a repatriation meeting our demands,” admitted Gegham Stepanyan, Karabakh’s exiled human rights ombudsman. “At the same time, I believe we must not close the issue or allow international actors to close the issue.”

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