Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Azerbaijan: A Long Displacement

Video: Hardship, but hope too, among Azerbaijanis driven from their homes by 1990s war.
By IWPR contributors

The Nagorny Karabakh conflict ended in 1994 with a ceasefire, but no political settlement. The lack of resolution means temporary displacement has become protracted for many of those who ran from their homes amid the conflict.

Internally displaced persons, IDPs, like those interviewed in this video grew up either in Nagorny Karabakh – then an autonomous region of Soviet Azerbaijan – or in adjacent areas like Aghdam. By the end of the conflict, both Karabakh itself and several adjoining districts were under Armenian control, and remain so to this day.

Yet members of this older generation retain a strong personal connection to their home places¸ and many dream of returning one day. Life as refugees has not been easy, and many still life in sub-standard housing with poor amenities.

Ahmed, now 65, came from the town of Shusha – now in Armenian-held territory and virtually deserted –fought on the Azerbaijani government side in the war. He has since built a house on land he acquired, but his heart is still in the home he had in Shusha.

The same is true of Anvar, 52, who says, “I want to go home and breathe the air there. My daughters grew up here and they don’t remember what the air in Karabakh was like. But they still want to return, I'm sure of that.”

This short film was produced by Azerbaijani participants in an IWPR training programme in web-based video reporting in the Caucasus.