Conflicts & War

Life after the Nagorno-Karabakh war

Christophe Petit-Tesson

Stepanakert, Nagorno-Karabakh, Feb 24 (epa-efe).- Some aspects of life are returning to normal in Nagorno-Karabakh after the 44-day war that between September and November last year left more than 5,000 dead and thousands displaced.

But other things are far from what they used to be in the self-declared Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh).

Mostly home to ethnic Armenians, the Soviets allocated the region to Azerbaijan in 1921. Today, the disputed territory is recognized as Azerbaijani by the international community.

Soldiers stranded in abandoned military positions, schools housing orphans and the children of refugees, villagers in need of aid are now a fixture of the landscape in Nagorno-Karabakh.

As are some 2,000 Russian peacekeepers deployed to monitor the ceasefire agreed in the middle of the night on 10 November.

Nagorno-Karabakh is no longer in the headlines, but the impact of the conflict is palpable in the military cemeteries of Yerevan, the Armenian capital, where entire families mourn their dead surrounded by recently filled graves.

Vahan and Erik, two young soldiers in uniform, pay tribute to their fallen comrade Parkev Kasparian,19. Facing the tomb, they tell the story of how he died during a tank battle in Martakert, tearfully asking him for forgiveness. Nearby, sitting on a grave, Katia, cries for a 20-year-old friend who was killed in Djibrail on the southern front. His portrait is engraved on the headstone.

Two months after the end of hostilities, empty graves are still open, waiting to receive the bodies still coming from the front.


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