Methodist Church

UMCOR marks 10 years of work in Azerbaijan

NEW YORK – During the past decade, thousands of citizens and refugees in Azerbaijan have received health care through the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR).

The work has been accomplished through grants from UMCOR and the agency’s major partners there, including the US State Department, the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

In November last year, Mr Marc Maxi, Executive Director of UMCOR’s non-governmental organisation, participated in a 10th anniversary celebration of UMCOR’s work in Baku, Azerbaijan. “We’ve been there for 10 years providing the same service,” he said. “We thought it was a milestone that needed to be shared with others.”

Much of UMCOR’s attention has been focused on refugees who have fled to Azerbaijan from a number of countries, including Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey and Armenia.

Additional attention has been given to Azeri people who came to Baku to escape areas of conflict in their own country. Formerly part of the Soviet Union, the newly independent Azerbaijan had a three-year war with Armenia.

Azerbaijan is now stable and has an improving economy, according to Mr Maxi, but many of the refugees remain in the capital. “By and large, those we serve are pretty much staying where they are,” he said.

Health care projects

UMCOR has developed and managed a number of health care-related projects in Azerbaijan since 1996, ranging from primary health care to oral hygiene to immunisation to family planning. The agency has also provided medicines and health, hygiene and school kits.

Current UMCOR projects in Azerbaijan include a primary health care and pharmaceutical distribution programme funded by the US State Department. Free medical care, medicines and other goods are provided through 60 community-based health providers, 53 health facilities, UMCOR mobile medical teams and 11 UMCOR medicine dispensaries.

The programme serves 37 children’s institutions, four elderly institutions, a correctional institution and one home for the disabled, reaching more than 7,000 people. – United Methodist News Service.

Linda Bloom is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in New York.