Thousands of civilians were forced to flee due to the shelling of Nagorno-Karabakh. Those who remain seek refuge in churches and makeshift shelters. Fights for a separatist region located in Azerbaijan and inhabited by Armenians have been going on since September.
Reuters Agency released on Thursday a video of a group of Armenians seeking refuge in a church in Stepanakert, the capital of the internationally unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh. The city has been under attack by Azerbaijani troops for many days. Many houses have been destroyed.
They did not think Azerbaijan would start a war now. They said they lived a quiet life, if they knew what awaited them, they would send the children away, they would stock up. When the shelling started, they ran out of their houses and hid in the cellars, reported the Russian portal Znak from Stepanakert after talking to local residents.
“All stores were closed”
Inhabitants of the capital of Nagorno-Karabakh, on October 7, spent most of the day in the basements of their houses, turned into shelters. All shops were closed – reported the website Kaaski Węzeł. – We didn’t even know what the weather was like – one of the women told a journalist of the portal. Another confessed that “most of the day she spent with the children in the shelter”. They had access to water and electricity. “We, all my neighbors with children, are ready for any difficulties, may only this war be the last and our relatives from the front return alive and winners,” she said.
– The shelling lasted all night (from Wednesday to Thursday). There are 11-12 people in the basement, mostly women. There is also a 70-year-old man with his wife, whose son died in the First Karabakh War. Today my eldest son brought a neighbor, a lonely cripple, was once a scout and was injured. We decided that she would stay with us for now. Sometimes I am in an apartment on the second floor, but when the fire intensifies, I go down to the basement. We took the children to a safe place – a history teacher in one of Stepanakert’s schools told Caucasian Węzl.
Goris on the way out
Thousands of refugees have fled to Armenia since the start of the new conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh. The first settlement on their way is the border town of Goris. Refugees are directed to the headquarters of the local authorities, from where they are picked up by relatives or taken to hotels, reported the Russian section of the BBC.
Located 100 km from Stepakert, the city of Goris is the first safe point when crossing the Armenian-Karabakh border. Currently, there are several hundred refugees there, mainly women and children. Why are there no men? One of the residents of Stepanakert, Karen, confessed that men of military age are not allowed to leave Karabakh. He himself, however, managed to get out of there – wrote the Znak portal.
Nagorno-Karabakh, with a population of 146,000, is located on the territory of Azerbaijan and inhabited by ethnic Armenians who declared independence during the conflict that broke out after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Since then, Baku and Yerevan, with varying degrees of intensity, have been waging a dispute over a separatist region that is not recognized internationally.
The latest edition of the fighting between the armies of Armenia, separatists and Azerbaijan began on September 27.
Caucasian Knot, BBC, Sign
Main photo source: AZIZ KARIMOV / PAP / EPA