Hub Artsakh

Behind the microphone: shedding light on MEDIA+ Participants – Anush Petrosyan

Behind The Microphone: Shedding Light on MEDIA+ Participants Anush Petrosyan

Hub Artsakh Blog

Interviewed and written by Lou Terzian,
June 6, 2024

 

Aspiring journalists from conflict-affected regions often face numerous challenges in pursuing their careers, ranging from limited resources to lack of exposure to international platforms. Recognizing this gap, Hub Artsakh launched the MEDIA+ Program in the heart of Stepanakert in June 2023, with the aim of empowering young journalists from Artsakh to cover local developments and conflict for international media outlets. This series shifts the spotlight onto the journalists who are typically behind the microphone, allowing them to shed light on the challenges and aspirations they face in today’s Armenia.


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In the heart of conflict-ridden Artsakh, where resilience is a way of life, the seeds of Anush Petrosyan’s journalistic aspirations were sown in her childhood in Stepanakert. From playful conversations with fictional characters on a microphone, to hosting concerts in her music school, Anush’s journey to becoming a journalist was marked by a profound connection to storytelling and a deep desire to amplify voices.

 

“I used to speak on my green toy microphone, calling fictional people via my toy phone and talking to ‘them’ for hours”, recalls Anush, reflecting on the roots of her journalistic aspirations. “As a schoolgirl, I preferred listening to interviews with famous personalities over trendy cartoons or movies”.

 

“There is no universal justice, but journalism offers a pathway to fairness”

 

Her penchant for communication and expression found further expression through writing poems and compositions, igniting a passion for connecting with people and uncovering truths. For Anush, journalism became a tool for bringing to light the concerns and emotions of individuals, particularly those from vulnerable communities.

“I believe that there is no universal justice, but journalism offers a pathway to fairness by amplifying the voices of the marginalized,” she asserts. “Journalism offers the opportunity to raise not only your own voice but also the voices of those who are often marginalized”.

 

“Using social media was the only way to express my thoughts and emotions”

 

Amidst the backdrop of the 2020 war and blockade restrictions, the decision to enroll in the MEDIA+ program was driven by Anush’s desire to share her experiences and insights. “After the 2020 war, I felt a need to express my thoughts and emotions, and using social media was the only way to do it,” she explains. “Despite uncertainties caused by blockade restrictions, I applied to MEDIA+, drawn by the prospect of learning from the specialists at ‘HETQ Media Factory’, a renowned media outlet. It was a rare opportunity for young journalists from Artsakh who lacked access to such training without moving to Yerevan”.

While navigating the frequent electricity cut and resource scarcities, Anush’s first article was published in September 2023, shedding light on health specialists from Yerevan providing online consultations to the people of Artsakh. MEDIA+ emerged as a transformative platform, empowering budding journalists like Anush to raise their voices and garner visibility on national and international platforms.

 

“It’s never too late to share your story with the world”

 

Looking ahead, Anush graduated from a curriculum in foreign languages at the university, and continues to contribute as a freelancer for outlets like Civilnet, venturing into international English-language publications, and collaborating on a national podcast about Artsakh with the Media Initiatives Center. Within the evolving landscape of her journalistic journey, Anush remains steadfast in her belief that there is always room to learn and grow.

As I embarked on this journey, I realized that it’s never too late to share your story with the world,” she reflects. “Whether you’re a seasoned professional or just starting out, there’s always something new to discover in the realm of journalism.” 

 

More about Anush’s work

 

  • English language

“A Tale of Two Septembers”, Anush Petrosyan, Seen & Unseen, November 23, 2023

 

  • Armenian language

“Արցախից հեռու, Արցախի կողքին՝ առցանց”, Anush Petrosyan, Aravot, September 07, 2023

 

“2020-ի սեպտեմբերը և 2023-ի սեպտեմբերը․ շուշեցի աղջկա համեմատությունը”, Anush Petrosyan, Civilnet, October 23, 2023

 

“Երևանյան սև ուրբաթն ու արցախյան հացի հերթերը”, Anush Petrosyan, Civilnet, December 5, 2023

 

“Անձը հերքող փաստաթուղթս”, Anush Petrosyan, Civilnet, December 28, 2023

 

“Չեկած Նոր տարի”, Anush Petrosyan, Civilnet, December 29, 2023

“Շուշիի ոլորաններով՝ վերջին անգամ”, Anush Petrosyan, Civilnet, February 22, 2024

“Մահվանն ավելի լավ է նկուղում սպասել, քան երկրորդ հարկում”, Anush Petrosyan, Civilnet, March 22, 2024

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Behind the microphone: Shedding light on MEDIA+ participants – Vika Abgaryan

Behind The Microphone: Shedding Light on MEDIA+ Participants
Vika Abgaryan

Hub Artsakh Blog

Interviewed by Alyona Hayrapetyan,
Written by Lou Terzian,
June 6, 2024

Aspiring journalists from conflict-affected regions often face numerous challenges in pursuing their careers, ranging from limited resources to lack of exposure to international platforms. Recognizing this gap, Hub Artsakh launched the MEDIA+ Program in the heart of Stepanakert in June 2023, with the aim of empowering young journalists from Artsakh to cover local developments and conflict for international media outlets. This series shifts the spotlight onto the journalists who are typically behind the microphone, allowing them to shed light on the challenges and aspirations they face in today’s Armenia.

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Vika and her friend’s journey into journalism began in Stepanakert, marked by mixed feelings of apprehension, doubts and excitement. But with no journalism department available in Artsakh, their aspirations seemed distant. Until the opportunity to participate in the MEDIA+ program showed up on their phone screens. “My friend and I applied together after she shared the program announcement with me,” Vika recounts. “When we saw the announcement, we were very excited. We were also terribly worried whether we would be accepted or not”.

 

“Participating in the program made me realize that this is exactly what I was striving for”

 

Yet, today, Vika found a platform to pursue her passion for journalism. Entering the program, she looked forward to discovering a multitude of new insights. “I wanted to discover journalism in depth,” she shares. Through the program’s curriculum, Vika gained the knowledge she was yearning to learn, from upgrading writing skills to mastering the art of reporting. “I knew very little about this field before starting the program,” she reflects. “But now, I understand what journalism really is”.

 

With each assignment, Vika’s journalism aspirations grew stronger, solidifying her determination to pursue her dream profession. “Participating in the program made me realize that this is exactly what I wanted to do and what I was striving for,” she affirms. Through the program, she gained insights into various journalistic niches, from interview techniques to media literacy. “Initially, I didn’t have specific goals,” Vika admits. “Instead, I wanted to take as much knowledge and insights as I could from every aspect of the program”. 

 

“Before, I was afraid to voice my opinions. Now, I never hesitate questioning.”

 

For Vika, pursuing a career in journalism was more than a question of mastering the art of storytelling or gaining a diploma to present to employers. The program marked a turning point in her personal life as well. “Before, I was very shy, hesitating to ask questions, afraid to voice my opinions,” she admits. However, as she pursued the program, her inhibitions dissolved, replaced by a new confidence. “Comrade Barseghyan always said: ‘if you have a question, you should ask it,’” Vika recalls. “Now, I never hesitate questioning, particularly when the topic resonates with me.

 

Moreover, the program facilitated Vika’s transition into the professional sphere. “Highlighting my involvement in a journalism course during job applications undoubtedly boosted my prospects,” she shares. “I’ve been employed at MediaHub news since February, thanks in part to the skills garnered from the program.

 

“It is a cherished vocation coupled with great responsibility”

 

Vika’s journey serves as a testament of the resilience and perseverance of the youth from Artsakh.  “The first time I went to work and had to conduct street interviews, I was terribly afraid. I had not done anything like that before. My hands and feet were shaking,” she recalls. “But I was driven by the feeling that I am now a journalist and I have to do my job.” Her genuine love for the profession propels her pursuit of excellence every day. “ Even when I’ve been told “Enough, it’s good”, I didn’t stop, I kept asking questions, because I think the most interesting answer always comes at an unexpected moment.

 

Being a journalist is a cherished vocation coupled with great responsibility,” Vika concludes.

 

Reflecting on her journey, Vika recognizes the role of the MEDIA+ program in her today’s life in Armenia. “If I wasn’t given the opportunity of participating in this program, I think I wouldn’t even consider becoming a journalist now,” she admits. “As they say, serendipity has its role in shaping one’s path.

 

In Stepanakert, amidst the challenges of the new conditions of her daily life, Vika’s story served as a testament to the transformative power of education and to the infinite potential our youth hold within them. Through the MEDIA+ Program, she found not only a platform to pursue her vocation, but also a community of mentors and peers who continue nurturing her growth in Yerevan. As she continues her journey into the world of journalism, we hope that Anush’s story illuminates the path forward for aspiring journalists in conflict-affected regions.

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Engage Armenia 2024: A Tour in Review

#EngageArmenia2024
A Tour in Review

Hub Artsakh Blog

For over a week, Hub Artsakh embarked on a journey through 8 different European cities as an invited organization to the #EngageArmenia2024 tour, an initiative organized by Repat Armenia.

 

This edition of the annual #EngageArmenia event went big. While it wasn’t the first time this event was held, it was the first year that the delegation reached out to the Armenian diaspora in so many different cities in a single trip.

 

From London (UK) to Marseille (France), passing through Amsterdam (Netherlands), Brussels (Belgium), Paris (France), Alfortville (France), Geneva (Switzerland), and Lyon (France), over 700 participants answered the call of the #EngageArmenia2024 tour.

 

Hub Artsakh, alongside 10 other Armenian organizations and companies, showcased various ways to engage with the country and build new bridges between the Armenian Diaspora and Armenia.

 

For Shoushan Keshishian, Co-Founder and CEO of Hub Artsakh, this event was an opportunity to present our initiatives developed to support the displaced population of Artsakh and the responses provided through our most recent programs. Shoushan also invited the audience to join our community of changemakers, either by volunteering for the organization’s activities or by financially supporting our programs.

You too, can contribute to our mission by donating your time or supporting us financially

Throwback to these 8 days of meetings and exchanges with the Armenian community from Europe.

LONDON, March 6

The delegation’s first stop was in the British capital, where they were hosted by the University College London, with Tatiana Der Avedissian, head of business development for Economist Impact’s World Ocean Initiative and fundraising specialist, as well as co-president of the Harvard Kennedy School Women’s Network, in attendance.

 

150 individuals attended this kickoff evening. The initial contacts were fruitful and demonstrated the interest shown by the audience, motivating the delegation for the week ahead.

Amsterdam, March 7

In the land of bicycles, participants were warmly welcomed by the Surp Hoki Armenian Apostolic Church of Amsterdam, with 70 attendees filling the room to capacity. Heiko Jessayan, a journalist since 1985, moderated the discussion.

 

The interaction with the audience was lively, with numerous questions about investment opportunities in Armenia. 

 

We greatly appreciated the contribution of one attendee, who emphasized to the other members of the audience that “not only do you love Armenia, but Armenia loves you too”, encouraging them to take the leap to build stronger ties with the country.

Brussels, March 8

The gathering in the European capital took place at the Hay Doun center, founded by André Gumuchdjian, a Belgian-Armenian philanthropist and entrepreneur who established the center when he was elected Vice-President of the Armenian Committee of Belgium. 65 participants attended the event and joined us during the meet & greet.

 

As the founder of My Forest Armenia as well, André shared his vision of connection with Armenia: “Armenianness is like a seed. It grows more and more as you get older.”

Paris, March 9

The first of the 4 French cities visited during the tour was none other than the capital. The delegation headed to the offices of UGAB Paris in the heart of the 17th arrondissement to meet with 70 individuals who responded to the call.

 

Tigrane Yégavian, author of numerous works dedicated to Middle Eastern geopolitics, Eastern minorities, and Armenia, facilitated the discussion this evening.

 

The Parisian audience shone with dynamism and engagement in the debate, notably raising, for the first time during the tour, the question of the country’s security situation.

 

Sevan Kabakian, Director of Birthright Armenia, acknowledged that the current threats facing the country must be taken into consideration when developing a project in Armenia. However, he emphasized that “what guarantees Armenia’s security is the mentality of its people, inviting the diaspora to engage constructively and positively with the opportunities presented by Armenia to contribute to the visibility of the challenges faced by the country and thus strengthen its security.

Alfortville, March 10

Next, we visited the city known as “The Little Armenia of France”, due to its Armenian-origin population making up nearly 25% of the total population. Over 50 participants gathered on this Sunday.

 

Philippe Car, Deputy Mayor, opened the session by addressing members of the diaspora: “We are here to help you help Armenia, Armenians, and the entire Armenian community worldwide.”

 

Vartan Kaprielian moderated the evening’s panel. He is notably the founder of the new, fully Armenian social media platform, MIASIN.

Geneva, March 11

It was impossible not to visit the international capital of humanitarian action during this tour. The Armenian Union of Switzerland, along with the local branch of UGBA, invited us to the premises of the Warwick Hotel to host nearly 100 participants.


Vicken Bayramian served as our moderator in Geneva, an international business lawyer and serial entrepreneur with over 20 years of experience advising international trading concerns, banks, multinationals, and shipping companies.

Lyon, March 12

The final two stops of the tour concluded with the cities in France hosting the largest Armenian diasporas in the country.

 

In Lyon, speakers presented their projects to 120 participants in the hall adjacent to the Saint-Jacques Armenian Church of Lyon. Pascale Gostanian, Deputy Secretary of the parish council and Special Envoy to Armenia for Radio Armenia, introduced the session.

 

The discussion was moderated by Vaner Harutyunyan. He served as Deputy Consul at the Consulate General of Armenia in Lyon between 2013 and 2015 and was a diplomat at the Embassy of Armenia in Paris and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Armenia (2000-2017). He is the co-founder of Passenger.am and currently serves as the director of the French-Armenian Council (CFA).

Marseille, March 13

We were fortunate to conclude this tour in the sunniest of French cities, at the Théâtre l’Acte 12, with the participation of over 75 individuals.

 

Charig Osipian served as the discussion moderator. She has contributed to the international development of Armath labs abroad, aiming to foster the Armenian technological ecosystem outside of Armenia. She is also an active member of the Armenian Relief Society and co-founded the Kevor Karabian Franco-Armenian school in France, where she serves on the board of directors.

We express our heartfelt gratitude to Repat Armenia for inviting us to join this tour, which has allowed us to convey our vision and mission to members of the Armenian diaspora around the world.

In each city, we met, exchanged, and discussed with our community to invite them to reinvigorate their ties with Armenia alongside us. We found supporters and sponsors who were moved by the experiences of those whose stories matter most: the remarkable innovators and changemakers of Artsakh. They shared with us their energy and confidence so that Hub Artsakh can continue its mission with motivation and dedication: empowering the people of Artsakh to recover and rebuild sustainably.


Thank you for joining us, thank you for responding to our call and making us heard beyond the frontiers. We are hoping this will be the new beginning of a great history

of community fostering and solidarity.

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A Year in Review at Hub Artsakh

2023
A Year in Review at Hub Artsakh

Hub Artsakh Blog

As we bid farewell to the past year, we find ourselves reflecting on the collective journey we’ve undertaken amidst unprecedented tragedies lived by the men, women and children from Artsakh. This year has tested us in unique ways, yet it is precisely in these moments of adversity that the true spirit of our community shines most brightly.

 

Living Under Artsakh’s Blockade and Through Forced Displacement

 

Despite the adverse circumstances stemming from the imposed blockade starting in December 2022, Hub Artsakh not only sustained its activities but revealed itself to be more diligent than ever. The solidarity among our community deepened, and the Hub Artsakh premises became a vibrant hub, actively bringing together the youth of Stepanakert and beyond

Over the course of these 10 months, we conducted 25 workshops, both in person and remotely. These workshops aimed to mitigate the impact of the blockade on the personal and professional development of our participants, with a specific focus on digital skills and self-management to adapt to the challenging conditions. 

Amidst these obstacles, one of Hub Artsakh’s most significant accomplishments was ensuring the uninterrupted delivery of our services to beneficiaries. The resilience displayed by our team in the face of tragedy was possible thanks to the unwavering support of our international and Armenian partners and, undoubtedly, our community. Through these experiences, we have come to appreciate the true strength of solidarity and the indomitable spirit that binds us together.

On the other side of the checkpoint was Shoushan Keshishian, Hub Artsakh Director, who, unfortunately, found herself separated from the team due to the abrupt closure of the border. It took 10 long months of online communication and video calls before the team could reunite, under circumstances we had hoped to avoid at all costs.

During the exodus of the Artsakhtsi population after the horrific events of September 19th, Hub Artsakh acted as a safe haven for our community. Our basement was made available for anyone that needed shelter during the air raids, including children and elderly. Our emergency kits and medical supplies were at the disposal of anyone staying in the shelter, including candles, blankets, flashlights, power banks, painkillers, and more.

When thousands of people flooded into Stepanakert, having been displaced from surrounding villages/towns, Hub Artsakh opened its doors to anyone in need. Our chairs and tables were used for community lunches, our showers were made available for refugees, and our books provided some entertainment, particularly for the young kids.

We are proud to have been able to serve our community one final time, and we are determined to continue doing so in the years to come. Now based in Yerevan, Hub Artsakh will continue its activities and remain true to its vision and mission, responding to the new and evolving needs of the people of Artsakh that have been forcibly displaced to Armenia.

 

Highlights from our Programs

In the past year, our team experienced a significant surge in our activities against all odds, actively engaging with beneficiaries from Artsakh in the development of their projects. Gratitude is extended to our supportive partners and donors, facilitating the completion of two projects, with three more currently in progress, impacting the lives of not less than 82 individuals.

Idea to Impact

Launched in March, during the blockade, this program supported six entrepreneurs in transforming their ideas into operational projects. It was generously sponsored by the Philippossian & Pilossian Foundation.

Read our blogpost and discover the success story of Gurgen Baghdasaryan, a program alumni having made his project a reality.

Digital You

Aimed at empowering 20 women in Artsakh, this initiative equipped the participants with digital skills and provided soft skills training with the objective to secure remote employment. The program, supported by Linaster and the Fondation Arménie, aimed to enhance opportunities for women in the digital space.

MEDIA+

Launched in June, this ongoing program strengthens the capacity of young journalists in Artsakh. Conducted in collaboration with HETQ Media Factory and renowned journalists, it provides a long-term training program for participants to gain in-depth knowledge and practical skills in journalism.

Hovnanian Youth Fellowship

Supported by the Hovnanian Family Foundation, this fellowship aids 10 young individuals from Artsakh, aged 18 to 30, in developing innovative and socially impactful enterprises. Launched in November 2022, the program continues in Yerevan to support fellows in pursuing their learning and projects in their new environment.

Emergency Support Hotline

Initiated in October 2023, this hotline addresses the needs and challenges faced by refugees forced to flee Artsakh. Supported by the Hovnanian Family Foundation and through a strategic partnership with the ELL Partnership Law Firm, the hotline provides ongoing assistance, including support in securing employment and legal assistance.

 

Advocating for the Rights of the Artsakh Society

The need to share the experiences of the men and women of Artsakh has never been more urgent than in this past year and continues to be so. Our team, led by Shoushan Keshishian, actively contributed to advocacy efforts shedding light on the challenges faced by our compatriots.

Starting in August, Hub Artsakh’s first in-house research report was published. A rapid needs assessment was shared with numerous media outlets after several weeks of investigation and interviews on the living conditions of the population of Artsakh under blockade. This aimed to inform humanitarian, diplomatic, and regional/international political actors about the serious humanitarian crisis unfolding in the territory.

To further increase international visibility on this issue, we launched the campaign “Your Time for Artsakh” through our social media platforms, calling for volunteering, both in-person and, mostly, online. Over 80 individuals across continents responded to the call, offering their services in fields as diverse as marketing, management, finance, political science, aviation, and architecture.

Now in Yerevan, we are pursuing our efforts to highlight the tragedy that unfolded. Ensuring that refugees are aware of their rights and can advocate for them in the public sphere was a fundamental step. In November, Lawyers from the ELL Partnership Law Firm organized an information session for the Artsakhtsi public to answer their questions and inform them of their rights.

 

Embracing Resilience and Celebrating Our Community

Amid adversity, we wanted to continue celebrating resilience and moments of solidarity within our community—moments that are even more vital to bring some relief to our team, members, and compatriots during these challenging times.

Generous supporters enabled Hub Artsakh to invite the beneficiaries of our programs for a day of escape on the shores of Lake Sevan. The days were filled with games, film screenings, and enriching discussions, all made possible by the warm hospitality of our hosts. A necessary moment to warm our hearts.

An invitation from our partner, Impact Hub Yerevan, to participate in their Christmas Bazaar also was the occasion to bring together the creative minds and small businesses of Artsakh. More than twenty stands showcased honey producers from Artsakh, fashion designers, and artisans. The cuisine of Artsakh was also featured with stands offering zhingyalov hatz and bakhlavas that were continually enjoyed.

In the face of uncertainty and daunting challenges, we’ve united, offering support and demonstrating resilience that defines our organization. Our heartfelt appreciation goes to each member of our team for their unwavering commitment, adaptability, and hard work. 

 

Thank you for being an integral part of our collective journey. Wishing you and your loved ones a joyful holiday season and a new year filled with peace, joy and prosperity. 

Warm regards,

Hub Artsakh team

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Entrepreneurship, courage and community fostering: 

Entrepreneurship, courage and community fostering: a discussion with Milena Avetisyan, Hub Artsakh’s program manager

Hub Artsakh Blog

« Originally written by Lou Terzian on the 20/11/2023 »

A year after the launch of Hub Artsakh’s Hovnanian Youth Fellowship program, we spoke with Milena Avetisyan, the program manager, to tell us about her work, the evolution of the program, and the ambitions she has for her young protégés.

Supporting entrepreneurship in Artsakh

“The goal of the Hovnanian Youth Fellowship is to support young social entrepreneurs, individuals or, aged 18-30 years old, interested in developing a project relating to education, healthcare, democracy building or community development”, explains Milena. “We received a consequent number of applications for the program, of which only 12 passed the final stage and are participating in the program, which started on November 28, 2022, in Stepanakert”.

Milena has taken the reins of the program since the transfer of Hub Artsakh’s activities to Yerevan in November 2023.

“The idea of the project arose after a needs assessment, when we noticed a lack of support and resources are preventing young people in Artsakh from implementing their innovative, changemaking ideas. That’s the reason why we, as a team, have come up with this program that will, first of all, contribute to the development of their professional and soft skills, but also to the development and promotion of their ideas and businesses. We are supported by the H. Hovnanian Family Foundation to implement the program, and we collaborated with various individuals and organizations for providing courses and seminars, such as BalLab, Impact Hub Syunik, and others.”

Balancing the consequences of the blockade

From now on, at the age of 20, Milena divides her time and energy between her studies in Management at university and her commitment to Hub Artsakh.

“The blockade imposed on Artsakh by Azerbaïdjian greatly limited us and the beneficiaries, particularly with regard to freedom of movement”

“Before the recent events in Artsakh, the program fully met its goals, as the participants were quite motivated to work on their programs. But the blockade imposed on Artsakh by Azerbaïdjian greatly limited us and the beneficiaries, particularly with regard to freedom of movement”, she pursues. “During the program, we had planned to make several visits to successful organizations in Armenia for the beneficiaries to build professional connections and take inspiration from, that we couldn’t honor anymore”.

While the forced displacement of Artsakh residents in November 2023 temporarily suspended the beneficiaries’ projects, Milena ensures that the program’s participants receive all the support necessary to rebuild themselves, before continuing working on their professional projects.

Adapting to new life circumstances

“The participants have since scattered all over Armenia, which is a new challenge for us, but one that I am sure we will be able to overcome. In addition to educational programs, we are holding a lot of entertainment activities to foster connection among the participants and to rebuild a sustainable and resilient community”.

“This is a new challenge for us, but one that I am sure we will be able to overcome”.

Despite their new life circumstances, the fellows have decided to continue working on bringing their ideas to life, fueled with motivation and courage. 

“For anyone looking to develop their own projects in Armenia, I would advise two things. Firstly, there will always be different obstacles on the way to the realization of one’s project, and many people just give up because they are afraid of these challenges. You should constantly generate new ideas, and pursue your goals to the end, fearlessly. Then, everything is changing very quickly in the 21st century, and it’s very important to stay on top of the latest knowledge and skills in your field. So my two final pieces of advice to take would be to be proactive and to pursue self-education continuously”.

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Hub Artsakh’s findings from Rapid Needs Assessment

Hub Artsakh’s findings from Rapid Needs Assessment

Hub Artsakh Press

« Originally published by MIASEEN Inc. (@miaseen_inc) on the 18/09/2023»

Data now shows 95% of residents in Nagorno-Karabakh have partially insufficient or insufficient food supply, according to the Rapid Needs Assessment report conducted by Hub Artsakh.

We spoke this morning with Hub Artsakh CEO Shoushan Keshishian about the data found in the survey and the importance of hard statistics for the international community.

Explore more from the report at miaseeninc.com.

Capture d’écran 2023-11-15 à 13.44.59

Rapid Needs Assessment Report - Hub Artsakh

« Originally published by EVN Report on the 15/08/2023 »

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New study sheds light on humanitarian crisis in Karabakh

New study sheds light on humanitarian crisis in Karabakh

Hub Artsakh Press

« Originally published by Civil Net, written by Angela Hassassian on the 17/09/2021»

The region of Artsakh, also known as Nagorno Karabakh, is facing an alarming humanitarian crisis as a result of an eight-month-long blockade imposed by Azerbaijan. The closure of the vital Lachin corridor, the only land route connecting Nagorno Karabakh to Armenia and to the rest of the world, has led to severe shortages of food, medicine, and essential goods. 

120,000 people in Nagorno Karabakh are left isolated and in a state of increasing desperation. A recent Rapid Needs Assessment survey conducted by Hub Artsakh provides hard data to substantiate the anecdotal evidence of the dire consequences faced by the region’s population. 

Hub Artsakh is a non-profit organization with a mission to promote social impact projects and enterprises which propel the post-war recovery and positive development of the region.

FINDINGS

The survey’s findings echo a distressing reality in the region. Only 5% of respondents reported sufficient food availability for their households in the past week. Sufficient food, in this case, signifies access to food that meets basic dietary needs. A staggering 95% of households experienced either partially sufficient or insufficient food, indicating widespread scarcity.

The closure of the Lachin corridor has led to limited market access, creating a vacuum that threatens the region’s food security. The shortage of fuel means any available resources, such as fruits and vegetables from gardens, don’t reach where they need to. The blockade’s impact reverberates throughout households, forcing 68% of them to reduce their meal frequency, and 51% to rely on less preferred and cheaper food options.

 

With a substantial 62% of respondents purchasing food with cash, it becomes evident that a considerable portion of households still possess a degree of purchasing power. These numbers collectively underscore that the root cause of the insufficient food consumption crisis lies not in the inability to purchase, but rather in the alarming scarcity of available food; a direct consequence of the illegal blockade. 

“When the shops are supplied with food, people stand in long queues, and not everyone manages to buy food, as it finishes quickly,” one respondent commented.

The study results reiterate warnings made by the founding prosecutor of the International Criminal Court Luis Moreno Ocampo in a report published earlier last week, where Ocampo classified the situation in the region as genocide.

“You will find no crematoria in Artsakh, nor machetes, but genocide by starvation is no less devastating for being silent,” Ocampo said.

The survey revealed the grim reality of household food stocks as well. A significant majority—59%—reported not having any staple food stock, while 36% did have such stocks, often forecasted to last a mere three weeks.

The blockade’s effects are not limited to food or access to medical services and essential goods, with many leaving comments regarding the effects on the state of their mental health. 

One respondent wrote, “My nerves are too fragile to be standing in long queues, without even being sure that I will eventually manage to buy food. It is better to eat less than to stand in these long queues.”

Despite the looming threat of famine, 67% of households express concern over the security situation as their main concern, taking priority and far outweighing concerns over the shortage of food or medicine.

In fact, the population remains steadfastly united in their stance against integration into Azerbaijan with an overwhelming 98.8% expressing staunch opposition. 93.5% of respondents are willing to accept humanitarian assistance if it comes through the Lachin Corridor, sent from Armenia or from international actors that have an “amicable attitude to Armenians in Nagorno Karabakh.”

RECOMMENDATIONS

In light of these dire findings, the study puts forward several urgent recommendations. 

First and foremost, international aid organizations must mobilize to deliver essential humanitarian aid, including food and medicine, extending swift support to alleviate the suffering of the affected population. This recommendation also calls for regular monitoring of the situation to ensure that effective and immediate action is taken to meet the needs of the people. 

Secondly, the organization urges collaborative efforts among regional and international partners, in order to establish security measures, ensuring the safety of both residents and aid workers. This also suggests the facilitation of meaningful dialogue and negotiations to address the underlying causes of the blockade, seeking peaceful and diplomatic solutions to this crisis.

Finally, international organizations and allies are asked to exert diplomatic pressure and advocate for the immediate opening of the Lachin corridor. This step is vital for enabling international organizations to deliver essential humanitarian aid to the region.

 

METHODOLOGY

The study was conducted between July 30 and August 3, 2023, and adopted a robust methodology to capture an accurate representation of the prevailing conditions. The study employed face-to-face interviews with 418 households in four key locations in Karabakh: Stepanakert, Martuni, Martakert, and Askeran. The interviews were conducted through a semi-structured questionnaire, ensuring a national representative sampling with a 95% confidence interval and factors in a 5% margin of error. The survey’s demographics portrayed a snapshot of the population, with varying education levels, household sizes, and age distributions.

The findings of this Rapid Needs Assessment serve to convey the urgency of the situation, which demands collective efforts to break the blockade and alleviate the suffering of the population.

The data has been published ahead of the recent convening of an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council, with the hope that its findings will assist representatives of the UN Security Council to make informed decisions that could potentially avert an even greater catastrophe. 

The sentiment is that the fate of Nagorno Karabakh’s population hangs in the balance, pointing to a level of urgency that cannot be ignored.

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Rapid Needs Assessment in Artsakh: Letting the Numbers Tell the Story

Rapid Needs Assessment in Artsakh: Letting the Numbers Tell the Story

Hub Artsakh Press

« Originally published by EVN Report on the 15/08/2023»

By now we have all heard about the ongoing blockade of Artsakh which is nearing its eighth month. We have heard about the starving, sun-stroked children and the increasing rates of early-term miscarriages. We have heard about the endless queues for a loaf of bread that has become one of the sole lifelines of a starving population. We have seen the photos of dark, forcibly pedestrianized streets, and unceremoniously emptied-out markets. 

This blockade has been imposed on Artsakh far longer than any of us could have anticipated. When the farcical news of Azerbaijani environmental protestors blocking the Lachin Corridor reached us, we were distressed, but naively optimistic, thinking the situation would be resolved in a matter of few days and life would go back to normal. A few days turned into a few weeks. Then, into a few months. And now, we have forgotten what normal used to be. Our optimism and hope is rapidly depleting, along with the food and water in Artsakh. Every single interaction we have is now wrapped in a latticework of tension, concern and fatigue. 

All this, however, is bearable. Standing in the never-ending queues, and walking dozens of kilometers each day to secure some water can be bearable. It is possible to work around the electricity cuts, internet outages, and the pangs of hunger. Yet, the doubts that are cast on the severity of this blockade are enough to tip one over the edge. The hardest situation to manage is when the predicament of Artsakh is confronted with questions aiming to poke holes in testaments, rather than an outpouring of solidarity and support. Sometimes, it seems that the stories, photos, videos and outcries from Artsakh are not proof enough of the horrific nature of this ongoing blockade. 

That is why at Hub Artsakh, we decided to revert to reliable, evidence-based, quantifiable numbers, and conduct a Rapid Needs Assessment to tell the story of the unfolding starvation and deprivation in Artsakh. This assessment was conducted by Hub Artsakh to collect quantitative data at the household level in order to understand the real needs and concerns of the population in Artsakh. From July 30 to August 4, 2023, a rapid needs assessment among 418 households in Artsakh was conducted to collect representative data with the application of a robust methodology. 

Face-to-face interviews were held in four locations, including Stepanakert, Martuni, Martakert and Askeran. The objective was to capture, quantify, and amplify the needs and concerns of the population of Artsakh. The results of this survey are alarming, signaling a much larger crisis that will undoubtedly unfold if the blockade drags any longer without any intervention. 

Key Findings

Food Consumption 

The analysis of food consumption in the interviewed households showed that on average, households manage to have meals three times a day. However, this does not reflect the sufficiency of the meals, nor the food coping mechanisms employed to manage food scarcity and ensure they can meet their basic food needs.

Deeper analysis revealed that children under the age of 2 have meals more frequently compared to older children and adults. About 10% reported that children between the ages of 6-17 had 1-2 meals on average of the last three days before the interview day. It is important to mention that 11% of households reported that adult members had only one meal and 35% had two meals on average of the last three days before the interview. Based on this, it can be assumed that adults eat less to be able to provide food to children.

Additionally, more than half of respondents (62%) bought food with cash. This means that overall, the households’ purchasing power is not very low, which only confirms that the main reason for insufficient food consumption is the availability of food and not its accessibility.

Food Sufficiency and Obstacles to Having Sufficient Food

Having sufficient food means that all members of households have access to an adequate and nutritious food supply that meets their dietary needs and supports their overall well-being. This includes having enough food to maintain a balanced diet for all members of the households, without experiencing hunger or malnutrition.

The respondents were asked if there was sufficient food for their household during the last seven days. Only 5% reported that the food was fully sufficient, 65% said the food was partially sufficient, and 30% had insufficient food. This is an alarming finding confirming the lack of food in Artsakh and showing that 95% of households either have partially sufficient or insufficient food.

As the main obstacle for having insufficient food during the past seven days, 89% of respondents mentioned that “there is no food in the market”; 43% cited the reason to be the limitation or lack of access to markets because of disruption of transportation means, caused by the gas shortage. Another 25% indicated high prices and not enough money to buy food.

Extremely long queues to buy food also affected the sufficiency of food in households, because people, in particular those with small children, elderly and/or disabled people, were unable to stand and wait in the queues for indefinite amounts of time. This was further compounded by the fact that those in queues are unsure whether the food will be sufficient for everyone waiting to purchase. 

Food Coping Mechanisms

Households usually employ food coping mechanisms to manage food scarcity and ensure they can meet their basic food needs. The analysis of the adoption of coping mechanisms per day displayed an alarming finding: 68% of households had to reduce the number of meals eaten and 51% had to rely on less preferred and less expensive food all seven days a week. Moreover, during all seven days in the past week, 38% of the adult population ate less so that small children could eat.

In light of the persisting situation and the continued adoption of food coping strategies, there is a growing concern for potential hunger and health issues with the affected population. As people resort to various coping mechanisms to access food, there could be significant consequences on the overall well-being of people.

Main Concerns

One of the objectives of the survey was to understand the main concerns of the population in Artsakh considering the current situation. The respondents were asked to name their concerns and rank them based on their priority. The most serious concern of households was the security situation in Artsakh. The shortage of food was ranked the second among the first priority concerns, and the first in the second and third priority concerns, confirming the lack of food availability. Another concern that can be seen in all three rankings was the shortage of medicine, indicating the challenges in assessing essential healthcare and medical supplies. The travel restrictions were frequently mentioned as one of serious concerns.

Humanitarian Assistance

Finally, the survey was used to collect data on the openness of the population for humanitarian support. Respondents were asked if it would make a difference where the humanitarian assistance is being delivered from. As such, 93.5% of the respondents answered that it would indeed make a difference for them where the assistance is coming from. Here, the predominant response was that humanitarian assistance would be acceptable only if it came through the Lachin Corridor, sent from Armenia or the international community. The key concern raised was that the humanitarian assistance provided from any other route would not be trustworthy.

Only 0.7% of respondents mentioned that it would not make a difference where the support is coming from. Here, the reasons mentioned were the catastrophic humanitarian crisis unfolding in Artsakh where people are already starving, and ensuring the availability of food for children at all costs; 5.7% were unable to answer this question. 

The respondents were also asked to list their first three priority actions once the communication with Armenia is open. 56.65% of the respondents chose “stocking food” as their first priority. 14.35% of the respondents chose storage of medicine and seeking after medical services as their first priority. 13.39% of the respondents gave varying responses to this question, which stretched from reconnecting with the family to visiting the grave of a friend in Armenia. 

Another interesting finding came from the question where the respondents were asked to make predictions about the next couple of months till the end of the year, and 71.27% of the population fears that the blockade will continue one way or the other. Only 5.2% responded that people of Artsakh might want to leave Artsakh due to security concerns.

Finally, respondents were asked to rate on a scale of 1 (definitely in favor) to 10 (definitely against) how they feel about the coexistence of Armenians and Azerbaijanis: 98.8% of respondents gave the rating of 10, indicating that they are definitely against.

Conclusion 

The data collected by the Rapids Needs Assessment survey tells a harrowing story of increasing food insecurity and deteriorating emotional and physical wellbeing. Yet, it also reveals the resolve and steadfastness that the people of Artsakh have to continue living, creating, and flourishing in our ancestral lands. 

When asked what they would do once the communication with Armenia is opened, one respondent, a middle aged woman in a family of four from Askeran, mentioned “I will order flowers for my flower shop.” This answer, perhaps, was the most poignant of all. While Artsakh continues to face numerous obstacles, a shortage of determination is not one of them. 

The Rapids Needs Assessment report clearly outlines what to expect in the coming months. As a result of the closure of the Lachin Corridor, there is a critical lack of food and other essential goods. Although people can afford to buy food, they do not have sufficient food, because of the lack of food in markets, limited transportation means, long queues, and more. Thus, the insufficiency of food at households makes the latter heavily adopt coping mechanisms to be able to sustain their essential food needs.

The combined impact of these factors will result in a vicious cycle of food insecurity, malnutrition, and poverty. This, in turn, will lead to negative health outcomes, especially for vulnerable groups like children, pregnant women and elderly. In light of these circumstances, we recommend the following measures to address the short-term and long-term needs of the people in Artsakh. 

Recommendation 1: Humanitarian aid and assistance

  • Mobilize international aid organizations to provide immediate humanitarian aid, including food, medicine and other essential goods, in particular to vulnerable people.
  • Regularly monitor the situation and call for immediate actions to stabilize the market.
  • Strongly consider adopting a conflict sensitive approach for humanitarian assistance.

Recommendation 2: Security and stability

  • Collaborate with regional and international partners to establish security measures and ensure the safety of residents of NK and aid workers.
  • Facilitate dialogue and negotiations to address the underlying causes of the blockade and find peaceful solutions.

Recommendation 3: Diplomatic efforts

  • Seek support from international organizations and allies to exert pressure to open the corridor for international organizations to deliver humanitarian aid.

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Could This Co-Working Space Redefine Artsakh?

Could This Co-Working Space Redefine Artsakh?

Hub Artsakh Press

« Originally by MIASEEN, written by Anthony Dikran Abaci on the 26/04/2023»

The first co-working space to exist in Artsakh is nestled in a simple room in Stepanakert.

To a foreigner strutting past and glancing through a pair of glass doors, it may appear to be an ominous group of young people sitting at their laptops. 

But what lies beyond the glass could be the percolating seed that will redefine the future of Artsakh in this post-war era. 

Hub Artsakh houses the usual pillars of a collaborative work environment: open floor plan, multi-person desks, and decent Wi-Fi. Chromatic Armenian art shines on the walls. 

Chess pieces are just stationary chiseled ivory without a devised strategy to slide them to a checkmate. While the idle king must be protected, the dynamic queen slices through the board to converge the other pieces to victory. The balletic queen deftly moving across this board is powerhouse pioneer Shoushan Keshishian, Hub Artsakh’s appointed executive director. 

At 25 years old and just two years into her repatriation from Beirut, Shoushan has illuminated optimism from across the globe with her entrepreneurial product production. With a Master’s from the University of York in Post-War Recovery Studies, she executed the astoundingly vibrant Sunrise Stepanakert Festival alongside co-founder and fellow diaspora Lilit Hakobyan; and spent a year in Armenia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs through the government-led iGorts Program. 

Now, alongside Gayane Sargsyan, another Sunrise Festival event organizer, and Milena Avetisyan, Shoushan is raising the peer level of innovation with Hub Artsakh. 

Founded in 2021 by Vahe Keushgueryan, Hub Artsakh bypasses the corporate stalemate of a gray WeWork, and is cementing down foundational blocks that could lead to a cultural and entrepreneurial emergence from Artsakh’s production Z generation. 

While an exciting aurora of belief can always be cultivated from congregating in a physical space, Shoushan and her team foster this emotion into concrete action.

In addition to memberships to the co-working space, the Hub Artsakh team has facilitated lectures and seminars on everything from productivity to product development to English conversation classes. Photos published showcasing such events record a pattern of new and returning faces. 

In this impending era of Artsakh, the narrative is flipping to self-sufficiency.

To flourish the seeds growing in Hub Artsakh, numerous grants and mentorship programs have been orchestrated to sprout these ideas for the rest of the world to witness. These programs have included a fellowship sponsored by the Hovnanian Family Foundation, who are the prominent donors of Birthright Armenia and Repat Armenia, and an Entrepreneurship Incubation Program with Impact Hub Yerevan. 

Currently in movement, with backing by Fondation Philippossian & Pilossian, is a one-on-one coaching program with professionals and entrepreneurs from across the globe called From Idea to Impact. All accepted initiatives focus on mitigating crises that are affecting Artsakh in the current and future. 

From afar, the first co-working space in Artsakh presents itself as more of a protected haven for intentional success than a collection of white desks and swivel chairs. 

Throughout the past year, Hub Artsakh has not remained untouched by the Lachin Corridor Blockade and Azerbaijan’s government shutting off electricity and gas lines to cities in Artsakh. Shoushan and her team have pushed to keep the doors open as much as possible. During one of the blackouts, they notified their community they had obtained a generator so they could keep working. With no gas to heat them in the bitter cold, the group of innovators do their best to grind through. 

Entrepreneurs around the world face endless challenges, but none like this group, which only cultivates more belief in their potential.  

It is impossible to predict exactly what will come out of this space. The fluidity of life in Artsakh may alter at any moment.

Yet one could believe key elements are lining up. With a reliable leader in its realm, collaborative support from outside entities, and young minds focusing their attention towards problem solving for a sustainable future, whatever grows out of Hub Artsakh is sure to be a checkmate.

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Hub Artsakh

Hub Artsakh

Hub Artsakh Press

« Originally published by Diaspora High Commissioner’s Office on the 20/07/2022»

Various events and meetings are often held in Artsakh and these are usually organized at the Hub Artsakh, a co-working center. Its executive director is Shoushan Keshishian, an alumna of our iGorts program for Diaspora professionals.
One of the biggest events held in Stepanakert during the spring was the Artsakh Civil Society Expo. Want to learn more about this co-working center? Watch the video and read about the interesting activities of Hub Artsakh  on their page.

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