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Most Karabakh Residents Displaced By Fighting


NAGORNO-KARABAKH -- A medical worker talks to a sick woman in a bomb shelter in Stepanakert, October 22, 2020

Nearly 60 percent of Nagorno-Karabakh’s population has been forced to flee homes since the start of the war with Azerbaijan one month ago, an official in Stepanakert said on Monday.

Artak Beglarian, Karabakh’s human rights ombudsman, said an estimated 90,000 ethnic Armenian civilians have been relocated to other parts of Karabakh or have taken refuge in Armenia due to Azerbaijan’s shelling of their towns and villages. They are enduring serious hardship despite food and other relief aid delivered to them by the Armenian and Karabakh governments as well as private charities, Beglarian told reporters.

The shelling has targeted Stepanakert and most other Karabakh communities, causing extensive damage to local homes and public infrastructure. Most of Stepanakert’s remaining residents now live in basements and other bomb shelters.

The vast majority of the displaced people are women, children and elderly persons. Those who have fled to Armenia are typically staying with their relatives or in temporary shelters made available by the government.

Among them are Nanar Karapetian and her two young sons. They lived in the town of Shushi until the outbreak of the war on September 27.

Like many other Karabakh men, Karapetian’s husband is a military officer who is now fighting against Azerbaijani forces on the battlefield. “My brothers, cousins, husband’s brothers are also on the frontline,” the young woman told RFE/RL’s Armenian service in Yerevan.

“All I want is peace so we can return to our homes,” she added.

“I miss my town, I miss my dad, and I want us to go back home soon,” said Karapetian’s 7-year-old son, Manvel.

According to Beglarian’s office, the fighting has left nearly 40 Karabakh civilians dead so far. One of them lived in a village near Stepanakert that was reportedly shelled on Monday despite an Armenian-Azerbaijani ceasefire agreement brokered by the United States.

The hostilities have also affected many residents of Azerbaijani cities and villages north and east of Karabakh. The Azerbaijani authorities have reported more than 60 deaths among them.

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