Despite a 1994 ceasefire agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan, the two countries' armies exchange fire almost daily in the disputed Nagorny-Karabakh territory. This makes life dangerous and difficult for people living near the contested border.
Since 2011, the British Red Cross has been working with the Azerbaijan Red Crescent and the International Committee of the Red Cross to run a three-year programme that helps people affected by conflict in the area.
Most people in this region rely on farming to earn a living. But since the fighting began many have lost access to their land.
Paula Baizan, British Red Cross programme manager, says: “We’re helping people who’ve been affected by years of fighting to become self-sufficient and find more secure ways of making a living. This includes small grants to get people back on their feet as well as support for community projects and safer homes."
Cash grants and community projects
In 2013 the Red Cross will give cash grants to 500 of the area’s poorest households. The money could change people’s lives by helping them to grow small businesses or pay off their debts.
Red Cross cash grants have already helped hundreds of people in the area make a living through cattle breeding, farming and running clothing and grocery shops.
In 2013 the Red Cross will also support Nagorny-Karabakh community projects. Local people will decide what is needed in their neighbourhood – it might be a scheme to give young people workplace skills, or provide a new community building.
Safer homes and cleaner water
Shooting from military positions near the disputed border puts people in danger and leaves them facing constant psychological pressure. It also threatens their homes, cattle and agricultural machinery. The Red Cross is helping people build protective walls to make their homes more safe and secure.
The conflict has also stopped residents reaching sources of drinking water along the front line. However, thanks to the Red Cross more than 2,600 people are now benefiting from four new water supply systems built in front-line villages in the districts of Fizuli and Terter.
The systems provide good quality drinking water but also help people get back to small-scale irrigation activities, such as vegetable growing.
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