Mr Ali Hasanov, Deputy Prime Minister,
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is my pleasure today to speak at the event celebrating 15th anniversary of Fuji vision aid mission to Azerbaijan.
Every year UNHCR’s Office in Azerbaijan facilitates such missions in close cooperation with the Government of Azerbaijan to arrange free of charge eye-screening and eyeglasses distribution for refugees, internally displaced and other vulnerable people by the 2006 Nansen Refugee Award Winner Dr. Akio Kanai.
Fuji Optical Co. Ltd. spent more than 2.8 million USD to accomplish its humanitarian missions to Azerbaijan since 2005.
Around 57 thousand pairs of high-quality optic eyeglasses and other items have been brought to the country as in-kind donation to the UNHCR operations in Azerbaijan.
In total, more than 31 thousand refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs) and other vulnerable people have benefited from free of charge vision screening services rendered during the missions.
This year, Fuji Optical Co. Ltd. has donated 3,300 pairs of eye-glasses and other vision and hearing aid items to UNHCR and intends to screen about 2,400 internally displaced persons, refugees and asylum seekers during the six-day vision tests and eye-glasses distribution in Yevlakh, Goranboy and Baku.
We appreciate efforts made by the Japanese Fuji Optical Co. Ltd. through its Vision Aid Mission to Azerbaijan, which demonstrate understanding and sympathy towards the displacement challenge faced by Azerbaijan and the work of the UN Refugee Agency.
United Nations and the Government of Azerbaijan have been working in the field of humanitarian assistance since 1992.
UN’s role was crucial in averting a major humanitarian disaster in early years of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. United Nations’ assistance was primarily focused on the immediate needs of refugees and IDPs affected by the conflict.
During this time, UN Agencies provided food, health services, shelter and other non-food items to more than 600,000 IDPs from the Nagorno-Karabakh region and the seven adjacent districts. Assistance also included support to some 200,000 Azerbaijani refugees who were forced to leave Armenia between 1988 and 1992.
UNHCR was one of the first international organisations to bring refugee management expertise, as well as substantial assistance to the country.
The combined efforts of the Government, local communities and the international community were crucial in preventing the most tragic consequences of large-scale displacement, such as mass starvation, epidemics and social unrest.
The humanitarian action is key for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The 2030 Agenda includes a vision for global solidarity with people in fragile environments, a renewed commitment to resolve or prevent conflict and the recognition of the important role of migrants, internally displaced people, and refugees in achieving development goals.
So, addressing humanitarian needs of vulnerable groups not only a prerequisite of sustainable development but also a necessity if the SDGs are to be achieved.
Central to Goal 17, Partnership for the Goals, is the idea that the SDGs can only be achieved through collective action. From this perspective, the commitment and cooperation of humanitarian actors is imperative to the achievement of the SDGs and focusing efforts on realising the agenda is key to building resilience to and preventing complex emergencies.