Historical background to the document "Speech of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev at the International Conference on the problems of refugees and IDPs in Azerbaijan" (Baku, Government House, October 16, 1996)

250.000 Azerbaijanis have been forced out of their lands and found asylum in Azerbaijan, because of the ethnic cleansing policy realized by Armenia in 1988-1992 in the territories where they lived since the ancient times.

From 1988, a plan of forcible ousting of Azerbaijanis from the 126 settlements of Nagorno-Karabakh, a province of Azerbaijan, was realized. Because of the aggression of the Armenian armed forces, more than 20 percent of the Azerbaijani territory, Nagorno-Karabakh and as well as 7 adjacent districts were occupied and nearly 700.000 Azerbaijanis have been deprived from their homes. They temporarily have settled in more than 1600 objects of 62 towns and districts of Azerbaijan. Presently, there are more than one million refugees and IDPs in Azerbaijan and it makes 15 percent of the population of the country. (http://www.azerworld.info/)

There are 8000 martyr families, 5000 disabled of war and 5400 parentless children among the refugees and IDPs. (ibid.,)

A legal framework based on the international experience was established for the protection of the rights of refugees and IDPs in Azerbaijan. President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev issued many decrees and orders connected with it. "State Program on the solution of the problems of the refugees and IDPs" have been adopted and "Social Development Fund of the IDPs" established and a number of measures have been realized. Besides, the laws of the Republic of Azerbaijan "on the status of refugees and IDPS" and "Social protection of the IDPs and persons equal to them" have been adopted. (http://www.refugees-idps-committee.gov.az/)

International Conference on the problems of refugees and IDPs initiated by the Asian Muslims Committee and International Islamic "Rescue" Organization was held in Baku on October 16, 1996. President of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev attended the conference participated by the representatives of a number of the Islamic countries. In his speech, he stressed that the problems of refugees and IDPs concerns the world community, international organizations and peace-loving people. President spoke about the damages suffered by Azerbaijan because of the aggression of Armenia: "The property of our nation has been sacked in the occupied territories. Undoubtedly, all these are inhuman qualities and brutality. But unfortunately, we face such savagery here, in the Caucasus, Azerbaijan, at the end of the 20th century when the world has reached a high level of culture."

The high officials of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees visited Azerbaijan in March-September of 1999. They visited the camps of the refugees and IDPs forced out of their lands because of the Armenian aggression, and got acquainted with their conditions. President Heydar Aliyev received the delegation. The head of the state highly appreciated the high delegation`s visit to Azerbaijan and examining the problems of the refugees and IDPs. The UN High Commissioner Sadako Ogata visited Azerbaijan in September of the same year.

A number of countries, especially Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the European countries rendered sizeable assistance to the refugees and IDPs through the international organizations, alongside with the UNHCR.

The problems of refugees and IDPs were one of the main priorities of the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev. He issued a decree confirming the "State Program on Improvement of the Life Conditions and Employment of the Refugees and IDPs". (http://www.azerbaijan-news.az/)

47 new settlements were constructed for the refugees and IDPs in Azerbaijan in 2001-2007. 70.000 people settled in them. The last tent camp was abolished and its residents were supplied with good apartments in 2007.

Historical background was compiled on January 31, 2008