The State of Gun Violence in the United States

by Caitlin Cerillo

An image that depicts a person holding a gun. Three angles of the world are shown next to it with a red circle over the United States. This depicts gun violence as a serious issue in the United States.
An image that depicts a person holding a gun. Three angles of the world are shown next to it with a red circle over the United States. This depicts gun violence as a serious issue in the United States. Source: Yahoo Images

Gun violence has always posed a serious threat in the United States. Gun violence can come in many forms, such as homicides, suicides, accidental shootings, mass shootings, and more. It is important to notice that this blog will be about gun violence in the context of the United States. Recent decades have seen a significant spike in acts of gun violence, particularly mass shootings. Although a universally agreed-upon definition of what exactly constitutes a mass shooting does not exist, it generally entails around a minimum of four individuals being shot and/or killed. This does not have to include the perpetrator.

According to the Gun Violence Archive, well over 600 mass shootings occurred in 2023 alone. These shootings result in the lives of innocent individuals being taken, as they can occur in a wide range of places. These include places of worship (like synagogues and churches), concerts, movie theaters, grocery stores, educational institutions, parades, sports events, and more. Just six years ago, the deadliest mass shooting in United States history occurred at a country music festival in Las Vegas. This resulted in the death of 60 people and over 400 injured.

While I have not been directly affected by a mass shooting, I vividly remember hearing about mass shootings in schools since I was in elementary school. The first one was the shooting that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012. A few days after the shooting, I remember my fourth-grade teacher speaking to us about the precautions our class would have to take in the event we were to encounter an active shooter in our school. In 2018, the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School shooting occurred when I was in 10th grade. I remember being afraid to go to school the next day. Since then, mass shootings have continued to happen each day, where innocent lives have been taken. People should not have to fear going to school, practicing in places of worship, seeing a movie in a theater, attending their favorite artists’ shows, or going to the grocery store. They should not have to plan places to hide in the event of an active shooter. This poses a number of important questions: Why is gun violence, specifically mass shootings, such a huge problem in the United States? What does this mean for United States citizens’ safety? What can be done and has been done to prevent these acts of terror?

The U.S. in Relation to Other Developed Countries

The context of mass shootings in relation to other countries is important to take into consideration when understanding the significance of this issue. In comparison to other developed countries, which are defined as states with a high Human Development Index (HDI), the United States surpasses all of them regarding the occurrence of mass shootings. According to data retrieved by Jason R. Silva from William Paterson University, “the US is the only developed country where mass shootings have happened every single year for the past 20 years.” Silva is an assistant professor in Sociology and Criminal Justice with a Ph.D. in Criminal Justice. He specializes in the area of mass shootings, media and its relation to crime, and violence in educational institutions. To find his data, Silva uses the same general definition of mass shootings mentioned earlier in this article: a minimum of four individuals either shot or injured, not including the shooter.

One of the leading causes of the United States’ high rates of mass shootings compared to other countries could be the relaxed gun laws and policies—or lack thereof. Gun control has become a heated topic of discussion among United States citizens, and the debate regarding its effectiveness has gained traction due to the heightened occurrences of mass shootings. Gun control can come in many forms, like the outright ban of specific gun models like the AR-15 and other assault-style weapons, the implementation of universal background checks, safe storage laws, or stronger requirements for those who want to purchase guns. Gun control does not necessarily mean that all guns will be eradicated from the country, which is a popular assumption among opponents of gun control.

Opponents of gun control and regulation also argue that it would violate the Second Amendment of the Constitution, which guarantees the “right to bear arms.” The Second Amendment possesses some relevant historical context, as it was originally intended to grant United States citizens the Constitutional right to form “a well-regulated militia” to protect their communities during the Revolutionary War. However, the context of society has changed. These state militias—while still existing in some states—do not serve the same purpose they did centuries ago. Proponents, on the other hand, assert that the protection of the Second Amendment comes at the cost of protecting people from senseless acts of gun violence.

A group of demonstrators at a March for Our Lives rally advocating for gun reform in June 2022.
A group of demonstrators at a March for Our Lives rally advocating for gun reform in June 2022. Source: Yahoo Images

The Role of Gun Culture

United States gun culture can also be a contributing factor to the nation’s ever-growing rise in mass shootings and gun violence. “Gun culture” refers to the specific attitudes, beliefs, behaviors, and feelings that society (or any social group) possesses regarding firearms. The term was first coined by Richard Hofstadter in 1970, who published an article titled “America (United States) as a Gun Culture,” which critiqued the country’s normalization and glorification of guns. This article was far ahead of its time, and I recommend giving it a read if you’re interested in learning more about the history of the United States’ gun culture.

In the article, Hofstadter talks about the historical context of the United States’ fascination with guns. It began as early as the Revolutionary War when the Pennsylvania rifle was used by British troops. Since then, guns have become integrated into everyday life, from hunting for food to entertainment and sport. Even in modern popular culture, the depiction of guns is typically associated with famous characters like James Bond, John Wick, and “Maverick” from Top Gun. Toy guns are constantly advertised to young children—particularly young boys—as a way to establish their “masculinity.” Additionally, video games glamorizing gun violence have amassed popularity among young people. While these examples are not the sole reason gun violence has taken a toll on the country, it’s important to note their contribution to the overall gun culture in the United States.

Last semester, I took a course on Human Rights taught by Dr. Greenstein, an assistant professor in UAB’s department of Political Science and Public Administration. We had the option to create a project pertaining to any topic regarding human rights. As the issue of gun violence is a direct violation of human rights in a multitude of ways, I chose to create a photo collage depicting the sensationalizing of firearms. I intentionally used one method of finding photos for the collage to further drive the point that gun sensationalism is extremely prevalent. To no surprise, all I had to do was walk into Walmart, where I found a whole section of firearm magazines. Each of the magazines portrayed the firearms in ways that one may find appealing, with eye-catching text, edited graphics, depictions of guns with the United States flag, and more. This shows that the sale of firearms is a lucrative business, willing to draw anyone into purchasing them.

This image depicts a photo collage made from magazine clippings. "GUNS" in big, yellow letters appear along with numerous photos of firearms.
The collage I created for a Human Rights course I took last semester shows the heavy marketing perpetuated by the gun industry. This contributes to the spread of gun culture. Source: Caitlin Cerillo

Through these examples, it can be seen why guns are normalized in our country and how they can influence the number of devastating acts caused by firearms. For this reason, steps should be taken to diminish its weight. An article by the National Library of Medicine that echoes this same sentiment urges pushing a narrative that “frames gun violence as a public health issue that has consequences on the health of the general population.” The article also mentions the importance of public advocacy through movements such as March for Our Lives, which was founded in the wake of the 2018 school shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas in Parkland, Florida. March for Our Lives has advocated for the end of gun violence through protests, marches, public demonstrations, and more.

Progress in Tackling Gun Violence 

While gun violence and the epidemic of mass shootings in the United States continue to be a huge problem, positive strides have been made to reduce it. September 2023 saw the country’s first Office of Gun Violence Prevention, established by the Biden administration. In October 2021, the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act was proposed, and by June 2022, it was signed into law by President Biden. The act aims to prevent gun violence by:

1) Offering mental health resources and guidance to state governments and schools so that mental health services are available in educational settings.

2) Implementing new gun control laws like extended background checks, implementing stricter punishments for the traffic of illegal firearms, etc.

3) Preventing funds from being used improperly and towards the provision of firearms and dangerous weapons.

President Joe Biden announced the Office of Gun Violence Prevention in September 2023, alongside Florida Congressman Maxwell Frost and Vice President Kamala Harris.
President Joe Biden announcing the Office of Gun Violence Prevention in September 2023, alongside Florida Congressman Maxwell Frost and Vice President Kamala Harris. Source: Yahoo Images

Through the establishment of the Office of Gun Violence Prevention, the Biden administration hopes to expand upon the progress made towards preventing gun violence, like the passing of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act. As of January 25, 2024, the Biden administration has announced new initiatives to promote the safe storage of firearms. Jill Biden and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona have worked together to spread awareness about how important safe storage is, especially because most firearms—approximately 76%—used in school shootings are acquired from the shooter’s home.

Inequalities in America’s Foster Care System

by Caitlin Cerillo

This picture shows a child pulling a suitcase and standing on top of a cliff-like figure, which depicts the harsh reality of children being relocated in the foster care system.
This picture shows a child pulling a suitcase and standing on top of a cliff-like figure, which depicts the harsh reality of children being relocated in the foster care system. Source: Yahoo Images

Common Misconceptions

Foster care is typically seen as a temporary living arrangement for children who are vulnerable due to circumstances like conflict in the family or home or until they are permanently adopted into a family. However, this is not the case for the hundreds of thousands currently living in the system in the United States. The average amount of time a child stays in the foster care system is just over a year and a half, with about 30% remaining in the system past two years. Many are awaiting being reunited safely with their biological parents or a relative, as their reasoning for being put in the system could have been due to anything from a parent being hospitalized to a death in the family.

On the other hand, many do not have parents or family members that they can be reunited with. Many children in foster care are subject to harsh living conditions, being moved and relocated multiple times during their time in the system, aging out, and the heightened risks of experiencing abuse and malnutrition, just to name a few. Each of these conditions can be extremely harmful to one’s mental and physical well-being. An estimated 50% of young people in the system possess a higher likelihood, 2.5%, of developing mental health disorders compared to their non-involved counterparts. Intersections of race, gender, sexuality, age, ability, and more play a significant role in the experiences someone in the system may face, which will be discussed in this article.

Overrepresentation in Foster Care

One glaring issue regarding the United States foster care system includes the overrepresentation of children of color. Specifically, Black children are among one of the most overrepresented racial groups in the American foster care system. This poses a problem because Black children represent 23% of the foster care population yet only makeup 14% of the general population in regard to children, according to KIDS Count.

This can be attributed to the social and economic disparities that Black families face. Intersections between race and socioeconomic status contribute to the hardships many Black Americans face, such as barriers created by systemic racism and economic inequality that put them on unequal footing. Systemic racism—also referred to as institutionalized racism—means that practices and behaviors that uphold white supremacy are instilled in all aspects of society. Just to name a few, systemic racism can appear in healthcare, educational, criminal justice, and economic systems. Systemic racism has caused Black Americans to face inequalities when it comes to accessing quality education, equal job opportunities, and housing, which all play a role in overrepresentation in the foster care system. Due to these circumstances, Black children may be more likely to be placed into foster care.

Social workers are professionals whose role is to promote social welfare, advocate for disadvantaged populations, and aid people in overcoming the challenges they are going through. Foster care social workers deal with ensuring the well-being of individuals in foster care by conducting home visits, monitoring the health, security, and academic performance of the child, and consulting with other professionals the child may interact with, such as counselors, teachers, and medical professionals.

Implicit biases are preconceived notions that one can have towards a specific group, which affects the ways in which they interact and view that group. Unfortunately, implicit biases that can be held by social workers have also been attributed to the overrepresentation of Black children. These biases can have an influence on how the social worker may handle cases and lead to disproportionate numbers of Black families being investigated and, as a result, becoming involved in the foster care system.

So, what can be done to correct the implicit biases that may exist among foster care social workers? Implementing diversity within the hiring process can ensure an inclusive environment, which can challenge potential implicit biases. Similarly, policies that ensure inclusivity can foster a proactive decision-making process when dealing with biases. Implicit bias training could also be helpful and open the conversation to important topics like the importance of cultural competence, the impact of stereotypes and microaggressions, intersectionality, and ways to recognize and address implicit biases.

Overcrowding in the System

This picture shows a young girl holding a sign with the words "I've been in foster care for 1015 days..."
This picture shows a young girl holding a sign with the words “I’ve been in foster care for 1015 days…” Many children will stay in the system for over two years while awaiting permanent adoption. Source: Yahoo Images

While the number of children in the system has decreased within the last two decades, there are still hundreds of thousands of children who will likely age out. As a foster care child gets older, their likelihood of being adopted into a family decreases. Younger children are more desired among prospective families, with children who are nine or older being much less likely to be adopted, according to the North American Council on Adoptable Children.

An effect of overcrowding is aging out, which occurs when a foster care child turns 18 when they are “emancipated” or no longer granted the protections and resources given to them by the system. Over 23,000 young people age out annually in the United States, which can cause them to be homeless, less likely to have access to educational resources, and often have problems with the transition to adulthood. Additionally, they may become more predisposed to a higher risk of substance abuse and teen pregnancy

This infographic shows various statistics pertaining the circumstances of young people who age out of the foster care system.
Statistics on young people who age out in the foster care system, provided by National Foster Youth Institute. Source: Yahoo Images

Addressing the problem of overcrowding requires several actions: policy changes and reform, improvements in the system as a whole, and public awareness and advocacy. Allocating appropriate funds to the child welfare and foster care system can ensure equal access to mental health services, supply improved technological systems to keep accurate and efficient data, and offer support services for foster parents. Each of these can benefit all entities involved. Public awareness of the system’s overcrowding issue can help recruit more prospective foster families and individuals seeking to permanently adopt a child.

The Connection Between Abortion Bans and the Foster Care System

In June 2022, Americans saw an overturning of Roe v. Wade by the Supreme Court. Roe v. Wade was a landmark decision passed in 1973, which essentially granted the right to abortion across the country. The 2022 decision to strike down Roe v. Wade has had damaging effects on the already overcrowded foster care system. People who are pro-life and against the right to abortion will commonly use foster care as a proposed alternative to the abortion procedure. However, abortion restrictions have been found to cause a significant increase in the number of children who are put into the system, according to an analysis conducted by Harvard Medical School researchers. This results in more children having less of a chance of being adopted into permanent families and increases the number of people who will most likely age out in the system.

 

Rethinking Museum Exhibitions in America

by Caitlin Cerillo

As an avid lover of visiting museums, it is important to hold them accountable when their exhibitions can have damaging implications. History and science museums can be among the most fascinating places to visit, as the world has such a rich scientific history. However, there is a fine line between preserving a specific piece of history and exploiting groups of people in the name of science. In recent years, several museums have come under fire for capitalizing on the exploitation of ethnic groups and glorifying the world’s hurtful history of colonialism, imperialism, and the oppression of marginalized peoples.

In recent years, attention has been paid to the sources of acquisition that many popular museums in the United States use. One of the most recent is the American Museum of Natural History, located in Manhattan, New York, and its exhibitions contain the remains of indigenous people.

What is Colonialism?

Colonialism is a practice in which domination over a specific area is carried out by another foreign state. Colonialism has been and is used as a way to consolidate political or economic gain and always leads to the complete subjugation, or conquest, of the people in the colonized area. The foundation of America was built on colonialism, dating back to before the nation was even established. While there are records of British colonies existing prior to the 1600s, the 17th century marked the beginning of the first permanent colonies. 

 

An illustration of what colonialism in the New World may have looked like. Depicts a docked ship on land with settlers.
An illustration of colonialism in the New World. Source: Yahoo Images

 

The Jamestown Colony was created in Virginia in 1607. Long before the establishment of any colonies in the New World, or present-day America, Native Americans were the first to live on American soil. The region in which the Jamestown colony arrived was the same region as the Powhatan people, an Indian tribe. On many occasions, there would be violent encounters between the tribe and colonists. When establishing colonies in the New World, colonists would bring diseases like tuberculosis and smallpox. While they had immunity to these microbes, they would be fatal for the local Native American population.

As the 17th century progressed, the relationship between colonists and Native Americans would significantly weaken. For instance, King Philip’s War occurred in 1675 after the execution of three members of the Wampanoag people by the government of the Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts. This war is known as one of the deadliest conflicts in American history, with the amount of casualties reaching extreme heights throughout the 14-month period of the war.

Even after America was established as a country, harmful practices against Indigenous Americans continued to be considered legal. Hundreds of thousands of Indians—particularly Indian youth—were forced to assimilate. Cultural assimilation is extremely damaging for multiple reasons. It normalizes public stigmatization of the affected groups and erases their cultural identity.

The American Museum of Natural History

 

Photo of the front of the American Museum of Natural History building.
The American Museum of Natural History, which has been criticized for its use of the remains of indigenous and enslaved people in exhibitions. Source: Yahoo Images

 

Upon facing public scrutiny, New York’s American Museum of Natural History has created a policy calling for the removal of all exhibits containing human bones. The museum has promised the use of anthropologists to carry out comprehensive analytical processes to determine these remains’ origins and source of acquisition.

Not only has the American Museum of Natural History come under fire for exhibiting the remains of thousands of Native Americans, but also for acquiring the bones of five Black adults who were buried in a cemetery for enslaved people. This brings an important conversation of eugenics, where bodies were exploited and used as “scientific property” against their will. The presence of eugenics and other scientific thoughts entrenched in racism and white supremacy have allowed for other forms of oppression against marginalized groups—specifically Black Americans—like medical racism and healthcare bias. These connections make the museum’s acquisition of these remains even more problematic.

The Smithsonian

 

Photo of some of the Benin sculptures acquired by the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History.
Some of the Benin sculptures that originated from the Kingdom of Benin in current-day Nigeria and have been acquired by the Smithsonian. Source: Yahoo Images

 

Another museum that has come under fire for its exhibitions is the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in D.C. While this exhibition does not involve human remains, the exploitation of a group of marginalized people under colonialism remains present. The museum held 29 bronze sculptures that originally belonged to the Kingdom of Benin. The Kingdom of Benin was established during the pre-colonial period of what is now southern Nigeria. The sculptures were seized by British military and colonial forces during a raid in 1897. This raid also resulted in the burning of the city and the deaths of the people who inhabited it

Real estate developers Paul and Ruth Tishman collected the Benin sculptures and sold them to the Walt Disney Company in 1984. In 2007, they were donated to the Smithsonian. Without thinking about the implications the sources of acquisition of their exhibition pieces have, the Smithsonian turned a blind eye to their hurtful histories. Fortunately, the Smithsonian recognized this problem and removed the sculptures from public display in late 2021. Museum director Ngaire Blankenberg also enlisted the help of curators to find the places of origin for all pieces that had potential ties to the Kingdom of Benin raid.

Harvard’s Peabody Museum and Warren Anatomical Museum

The Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology and the Warren Anatomical Museum, both owned by Harvard University, recently repatriated the remains of over 300 Indigenous people back to the Wampanoag communities. The university completed the repatriation process in January of this year. Harvard has since aimed to create efforts to better understand and rethink the implications of sources of acquisition. For instance, the Peabody Museum created a virtual exhibit titled “Listening to Wampanoag Voices: Beyond 1620.” The exhibit includes oral histories given by various members of the Wampanoag community.

 

Photo of the seven people in the Wampanoag exhibit created by Harvard's Peabody Museum.
These are some of the faces of the Peabody Museum’s “Listening to Wampanoag Voices: Beyond 1620.” The exhibit includes oral histories from Jonathan James-Perry, Elizabeth James-Perry, Phillip Wynne, Zoë Harris, Linda Jeffers, and Alyssa Harris. Source: Yahoo Images

Why are Sources of Acquisition Important?

The term ‘acquisition‘ refers to an object purchased or given to an institution, such as a museum or library. ‘Sources of acquisition’ deals with the background of these objects, like their historical context and location of origin. If not taken into careful consideration, ignoring sources of acquisition can be harmful to the affected communities. It normalizes the idea that the oppression of people is something that can be glossed over in the name of science or a glorified museum exhibit. In the case of many museums collecting the remains of marginalized communities, it pushes the notion that the subjugation and exploitation of people are acceptable. As reflected earlier in this post, America was built on the institution of white supremacy and colonialism, which makes the sources of acquisition of exhibition pieces even more important to note

So, what can be done to right the wrongs of these museums? Taking the initiative to go through the repatriation process should always be considered. While this process entails a number of legal procedures that may not be completed within a specific timeframe, it is always worth the exhibition pieces being returned to the rightful institutions and people. The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGRPA) was instated in 1990 and is a US federal law that facilitates the repatriation process. As of 2022, there have been many changes made to the NAGPRA. These changes include defining how objects are defined to better accommodate the cultural traditions and customs of the rightful descendants.

Similarly, hiring curators and anthropologists to analyze the origins of exhibitions can be helpful. Next, understanding shortcomings within the pieces a museum inherits through efforts like opening conversations about America’s history of colonialism, racism, and oppression of marginalized people. Giving a voice to those who have been affected by these harmful practices, like the Peabody Museum’s Wampanoag exhibit, is another way of allowing them to reclaim the hurt that has been done.

The Armenian and Azerbaijani Conflict: Attacks in the Nagorno-Karabakh Region

by Caitlin Cerillo

A Long History of Conflict

Since the late 1980s and early 1990s, Armenia and Azerbaijan have held political, economic, and territorial tensions. Prior to this, both countries were considered part of the Soviet Union after its formation in 1922. Nestled between the two countries is a region called Nagorno-Karabakh, which has been at the center of these strong tensions.

 

This image depicts a destroyed city in Nagorno-Karabakh from the first Armenia and Azerbaijani conflict.
Agdam, a deserted and destroyed city following the first Nagorno-Karabakh war fought between Armenia and Azerbaijan from 1988 to 1994. Source: Yahoo Images

 

With the region having an Armenian ethnic majority, it established a secessionist movement in 1988 with the goal of becoming part of the Armenian Republic. This movement was challenged on the basis of the Nagorno-Karabakh region geographically belonging to Azerbaijan and control of the area granted by the Soviets to the Azerbaijani government. Pushback against the region’s secessionist movement would lead to the first violent war fought between the two countries. This would result in a ceasefire, with Armenia maintaining territorial control in 1994.

 

This image depicts a map of the involved countries/regions. Armenia on the left-most side, Azerbaijan on the right-most side, and the Nagorno-Karabakh region in the middle, highlighted in bright red.
Map of the involved countries/regions. Source: Yahoo Images

Tensions Rise Again

Three years ago, the conflict was provoked again, leading to the second Armenian and Azerbaijani War. Once again, these tensions broke out regarding the Nagorno-Karabakh region. Although the first war ended in Armenia’s favor, Azerbaijan claimed victory with the help of its Turkish allies. Similar to the result of the first war, a ceasefire was facilitated by Russia and the two countries. Azerbaijan was promised territorial control of the areas of the Nagorno-Karabakh region it captured in the war, with Armenia agreeing to release control of some areas it previously occupied.

Present-day Attacks in Nagorno-Karabakh

Even today, the conflict has continued to wage on. On December 12, 2022, the Azerbaijani government released troops in the Nagorno-Karabakh region due to a self-proclaimed “anti-terrorist military offensive.” Azerbaijan began by blockading the Lachin corridor, which is the only way Nagorno-Karabakh is connected to Armenia. This blockade weakened the import of food and other resources to the hundreds of thousands living in the region.

 

Photo of the Lachin Corridor which connects Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia.
The Lachin Corridor, which was blockaded in December 2022 by the Azerbaijani government. The Lachin Corridor is the only connecting source between Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia. Source: Yahoo Images

 

With the fear of attacks on loved ones and the reality of ethnic cleansing at the hands of the Azerbaijani government, tens of thousands of Armenians have fled to their home country as of September 2023. As defined by the United Nations, ethnic cleansing is the forced removal of an ethnically homogenous group through intimidation tactics and/or coercive practices. These practices can include—but are not limited to—murder, arrest, displacement or deportation, destruction of property, and severe physical injury to civilians.

Just one example of the devastating attacks of the Nagorno-Karabakh region occurred on September 19 in a village called Sarnaghbuyr. Citizens of the region have undergone extremely poor living conditions and food shortages for nine months due to the Lachin corridor blockage. Zarine Ghazaryan, a mother of four, witnessed explosions from Azerbaijan when searching for baby formula for her youngest child, Karen. Zarine was then told that one of her sons, Seyran, was wounded from the attack, and two, Nver and Mikayel, were killed. Nver and Mikayel were only ten and eight, respectively.

Along with the casualties of innocent civilians, many were witnesses to the murder of others. Arman, a fifteen-year-old, was around other children in the village when the attack occurred. He suffered wounds himself along with having to see the horrific sight of other children being killed and wounded. While the Azerbaijani government has asserted that the attacks were strictly for “neutralizing legitimate military targets,” it has left survivors and human rights experts calling the attack indiscriminate or carried out at random with a carelessness towards the safety of others.

The brutal attacks in the Nagorno-Karabakh region have violated several articles in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The rights of the lives of innocent civilians of the involved countries, especially those living in the Nagorno-Karabakh region have not been protected. Families who have chosen to flee to Armenia have undergone extreme hardship, with the Armenian border being backed up causing the postponing of the safe arrival of refugees. Human rights organizations, like Human Rights Watch, have called on the Azerbaijani government for the guarantee of those who have fled Nagorno-Karabakh’s return if they choose to do so. Human Rights Watch has also asserted that the Armenian language, culture, and education must be preserved and protected, without discrimination. Those who choose against returning to the region, should receive monetary reparations and the safe retrieval of any goods or property left after fleeing should be carried out as soon as possible.

Helping Nagorno-Karabakh

There have been several measures taken to help those affected. This includes humanitarian aid in the form of financial assistance, response plans, and more. In 2021, the United Nations created the Armenia Inter-Agency Response Plan. The purpose of this plan was to bring together humanitarian partners who were dedicated to helping the people of Nagorno-Karabakh. The plan outlined the highest priorities of aid and the ways in which the resources could be allocated the most efficiently. Through the Armenia Inter-Agency Response Plan, over 34,000 non-food resources were delivered to the region by UN agencies and over 11,000 school-age children were assisted in their education, among other things. In September 2023, the European Union funded 5 million euro to the Nagorno-Karabakh region, with an additional 4.5 million euro to help the displaced population and those who are still living in the region and vulnerable to violence and hostility.