Internally displaced persons protest in Baku

On 11 September, a group of internally displaced persons held a demonstration outside the State Committee for Refugees and IDPs in downtown Baku, temporarily paralyzing traffic.

The protestors gathered because they have not been provided with the homes that they were promised. In January this year, it was revealed that the State Refugee Committee had distributed flats, which many IDPs had been waiting years for, to non-refugees for bribes of 3,000-5,000 manats ($1,770-$2,950), leading to a series of protests.

On 11 January, 250 IDPs blocked a road in the Binagadi district of Baku. On 15 May, a group of IDPs protested outside of the State Committee, demanding that their complaints be addressed. Apart from the January revelations, this time protestors also claimed that they had not received the welfare payments they are entitled to for months. A third protest was held on 5 June outside the Cabinet of Ministers.

Yesterday the protestors gathered in the morning outside the State Refugee Committee. One man blocked Tbilisi Avenue with his car. When he was arrested and his car removed, other protestors stood in the road, continuing to block traffic. The avenue was blocked, causing a one-kilometer traffic jam, for about 15 minutes before it was cleared by police.

The protest continued until about 2 pm. Protestors chanted "Prime Minister, receive us!" Officials, however, ignored the chants.

Ibrahim Mirzoyev, head of the press service of the State Committee, said the chairman received people every Tuesday, and that was why so many people gathered outside the building. He said a certain internally displaced person from Agdam Region initiated the unrest. "He wants an apartment, but such matters can’t be resolved that fast. Homes are provided to people in stages," Mirzoyev said.

A total of 1.2 million refugees and internally displaced persons live in Azerbaijan. The government says that in the past 20 years it has spent $6 billion to tackle the social problems of persons displaced by the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh.

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