Some 1,600 Armenian servicemen are still considered missing in action following the war with Turkey-backed Azerbaijan last fall. The number was revealed by Varuzhan Avetikyan of the Military Servicemen’s Insurance Fund at a press conference on February 23. It was the first time such an estimate was made public. The fund was established in 2017, in the aftermath of the April War, to compensate families of soldiers killed or seriously wounded in combat.
According to Avetikyan, the overall number of missing from the war has and will continue to decline as remains are identified through DNA testing and – less frequently – when soldiers are determined to be alive, such as in cases of those imprisoned in Azerbaijan. It is unclear to what extent these 1,600 overlap with some 3,700 individuals whose remains officials reported to have collected during the war and since. In a number of cases, the Artsakh Defense Army published names of individuals as killed in combat, even though their remains had not been recovered or identified. In other cases, the Fund compensated individual servicemen killed in combat, whose names have not yet been published by the military. Overall, names of at least 2,740 servicemen killed in combat have been published by all sources, including the Fund and mass media.
As part of its programs, the Fund is also assisting families whose members are missing, but have not yet received the official court-sanctioned status as “missing in action.” The fund published names of about 800 missing servicemen, whose families are receiving such assistance. These include names of soldiers previously reported by the military as killed in action and those not previously published.
Overall, the Fund has so far compensated 1,111 families of servicemen killed in combat in the 2020 war. Compensation is paid on the basis of appeals filed by the families. Avetikyan previously noted that many of the families are still unaware of the Fund’s programs or do not apply for compensation for various reasons. Thus, as of last month out of 564 Artsakh-resident military servicemen known to have been killed in action, only seven families received compensation.
Compensation includes one-time payments of 10mln Armenian Dram (currently equivalent to USD19,000), followed by monthly stipends of 300,000 for families of officers, 250,000 for contract personnel or reservists and 200,000 for draftees.