Refugees from Nagorno Karabakh - photo by A. Avetisyan

Refugees from Nagorno Karabakh - photo by A. Avetisyan

With the blitzkrieg of last September, Armenian Nagorno Karabakh ceased to exist, and tens of thousands of people hastily abandoned it to move to Armenia, where a future full of uncertainty awaits them

09/11/2023 -  Armine Avetisyan Yerevan

“There are 14 of us, I am with my family: my brother-in-law, my mother-in-law and my father-in-law, with 5 children”, says Aspram Sargsyan, who moved to Armenia from Nagorno Karabakh a month ago.

Sargsyan has 5 children, and her husband's brother has 3. Before moving to Armenia, the family lived in the Drmbon settlement of Nagorno Karabakh. At the start of the war on September 19, the family first moved to a nearby village, then reached Stepanakert, the capital of Nagorno Karabakh.

On September 19, Nagorno Karabakh was subjected to a large-scale attack by Azerbaijan which lasted less than 2 days.

On September 20, Nagorno Karabakh announced that a ceasefire agreement was reached through the mediation of Russian peacekeepers, and representatives of Artsakh and Azerbaijan would meet in Yevlakh on September 21.

“Since September 19, the Republic of Azerbaijan launched a large-scale attack along the entire line of contact with the Republic of Artsakh, along with massive missile and airstrikes. The analysis of the actions of the Armed Forces of Azerbaijan shows that the task of dividing Artsakh and causing irreparable damage to its vitality is set. .... Taking into account all this, the authorities of the Republic of Artsakh accept the proposal of the command of the Russian peacekeeping mission regarding the cessation of fire”, said the statement released by the information headquarters of Nagorno Karabakh.

According to official data , more than 200 servicemen and civilians were killed in Nagorno Karabakh as a result of military aggression. About 12 civilians and 30 servicemen are missing. There are cases of torture of at least 14 people, including 12 servicemen and two civilians. As a result of military operations, 3 children were killed, 231 servicemen and 80 civilians were wounded to various degrees.

“On that very day when they shot, iron hail was falling. Somehow, we got out of the village, without taking anything with us. We thought we might go back to the village and take our stuff later”, recalls Anyuta Sargsyan, the grandmother of the Sargsyan family.

“When it was calm, my son went to our village. Then he said to us: ‘You should see what they did! If you see what they did, you will not want to go there. If we got here safely, everything will be fine’”, Anyuta Sargsyan notes.

The Sargsyan family, like almost the entire population of Nagorno Karabakh, moved to Armenia shortly after the end of the military operations. More than 100,000 people have been relocated to Armenia so far. The families have come voluntarily – they say that after this war they could not live there anymore.

The Aghajanyan family – the great grandmother, her sons and their families – moved with the help of a neighbouring family. They all got into a truck and reached Armenia within 2 days.

“We made the 4-5 hour trip in 48 hours. The trip took too long, everyone was coming. There was a big queue, everyone wanted to reach Armenia a minute earlier. We are safe here. But the way of migration was cruel. Our hearts were in pain. There were people who couldn't stand the pain and died on the way, died shortly after entering Armenia”, says Shogher Aghajanyan, the family’s grandmother.

During the emigration, 64 civilian deaths were recorded, which are directly related to the deprivations suffered during the period of blockade, ethnic cleansing operations and displacement, such as hunger, lack of medication and medical aid.

“I lost two houses, but I am so happy that my 4 grandsons who were in war came back safe and sound. About the house, we will rebuild it”, Aghajanyan says.

The large family, which miraculously survived the war disaster, settled in one of the regions of Armenia. Some of their neighbours are here as well. They do not want to be separated from their old neighbours, they are thinking of living in one settlement.

The issue of accommodation for all persons transferred from Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia has been resolved now. Various aid programmes are being developed and implemented by the Armenian government. First, their reception was organised, then registration and placement were carried out. Within a few days, these persons received various forms of financial support, including for house rent. Everyone's problems have been registered. In general, forcibly displaced families are not only provided with accommodation and basic necessities, but providing them with jobs is also being discussed.

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