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World Bank preparing support for Azerbaijan within Great Return

Business 17:34 09 Jan, 2023
World Bank preparing support for Azerbaijan within Great Return

The World Bank (WB) is preparing to enter into a policy dialogue with the government of Azerbaijan to support steps towards the return of internally displaced persons (IDPs) to the liberated areas, which will be of a long-term nature, reports according to the WB.

“As of July 1, 2021, Azerbaijan is included in the WBG list of Fragile and Conflict-Affected Situations (FCS), as a country affected by high-intensity international conflict. The 2020 World Bank Group Strategy on Fragility and Conflict highlights the importance of supporting FCS countries and the complex challenges they face with tailored approaches, policies and instruments. In the case of Azerbaijan, this includes tailored engagement in support of post-conflict recovery and reconstruction,” the WB noted.

Since November 2021, the World Bank has been providing analytical and technical assistance to the Government through a State and Peacebuilding Fund-financed, Bank-executed grant called Support for Peacebuilding and Recovery in Azerbaijan.

This grant has financed analytical work that aims to inform a policy dialogue between the Bank and SCRI, including a survey of IDPs which focused on understanding the current livelihoods, service delivery, and social inclusion, and future aspirations; and a lessons learned paper on livelihood activities for IDPs.

“The Bank will mobilize its growing knowledge and experience in addressing the challenges of forced displacement to support the Government. In addition to the analytical work undertaken, activity under the SPF grant also includes support for the Joint Recovery Needs Assessment (JRNA) for Fuzuli, Agdam and Jabrayil, and just-in-time advice to the Office of Special Representative (OSR) of the President to the Karabakh Economic Region on issues including management information systems, local governance, and smart city development,” the WB added.

As Azerbaijan positions itself for the next phase of its development process, many of the issues related to the transformation are being recognized and addressed in the Azerbaijan 2030: National Priorities for Socio-Economic Development. Government of Azerbaijan (GoA) is pursuing economic, social and structural transformation through a series of reforms that address some of its longstanding challenges.

“The Government of Azerbaijan has established a policy called “The Great Return” and has already relocated 66 households to a newly-constructed “smart village” in the village of Aghali in Zangilan district as of July 2022 with plans for resettling a total of 200 households in the village. However, it is clear that further movement of displaced people will take time for various reasons, including ongoing border clarifications and safety concerns due to the presence of land mines in the conflict- affected areas. As such, there is a need to address the needs of IDPs who remain poor and vulnerable due to their long-standing situation of displacement and who may not have an opportunity to return to their places of origin for some time,” reads the report.

While Government has initially allocated funds through its State Program on the Great Return to the Liberated Territories of the Republic of Azerbaijan in 2023 and likely beyond, scaled-up financing from the World Bank could be a source of resources to help finance this significantly increasing need, the bank noted.

As a result of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict, approximately one-seventh of the population of Azerbaijan - about 600,000 people, was displaced from Karabakh and adjacent Azerbaijani districts and for almost 30 years, becoming internally displaced persons settled in other districts of Azerbaijan.