The situation in NK: three mothers talk about their families

Aug 14 2023
  • Gayane Sargsyan
  • Yerevan

Stories of people from Nagorno-Karabakh

“I urge Baku to refrain from steps that nullify the historical possibility of establishing peace”, the Prime Minister of Armenia said on the blockade of the Lachin corridor in his latest statement. Calls to open the road are heard not only from Armenia, but also from international structures, in particular the UN.

European Union announced that they “took note of the readiness of the authorities of Azerbaijan to deliver goods through the city of Agdam. This should not be considered as an alternative to the opening of the Lachine Corridor.” But Aliyev’s position has not changed, and he urges Armenians to either accept Azerbaijani citizenship or look for another place to live.

What is happening in the unrecognized republic, which has been under blockade since December last year, how are people surviving after June 15, when Baku banned the import of all types of humanitarian goods into NK? How do locals represent their future in current circumstances?

The questions were answered by three women from Nagorno Karabakh.

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“I have six minor children. The youngest was born during the blockade, on February 11th. It was a tough time. So much stood in crushes in queues that I did not know if I could give birth to a normal child. Fortunately, my baby was born healthy.

He is already six months old. He is artificially fed. I have two days of formula left, I don’t know what I will do next. The pharmacies are empty, there is no baby food or medicines.

Until mid-June at least some products arrived, now nothing. Most people don’t have sugar, salt, pasta or vegetable oil in their homes. I used the last drops today.

It is good that the harvest of vegetables has ripened. Cooking beans, potatoes, zucchini. We stand in line for hours for bread and vegetables. Moreover, you can stand for three, four, five hours and maybe products will run out.

Before the birth of the baby I worked in a state institution and in cosmetology, but I lost my job with the blockade. I was forced to work in a bakery in order to earn money.

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Friends from Armenia transfer money, but everything is expensive. Money is running out, although you do not buy anything special.

My husband was in Armenia when the blockade began. In those days, I could go to him – for a family reunion, but I stayed, realizing what difficulties there could be.

The children at first blamed me for staying here. They asked: “Do you love your homeland more or us?” It took time for them to understand: in any situation you need to fight, not run. The strong don’t run.

The school year is about to start, but I won’t be sending the kids to school. How can a hungry child go to school and understand something?

Recently, cases of fainting on the streets have become more frequent – both adults and children.

There are many problems. But we are unanimous that not a single vehicle should enter Artsakh through Aghdam, neither under the guise of humanitarian cargo, nor under any other. There should be a road connecting with Armenia.

My hope is for the Armenians living in Armenia and abroad. I hope everyone will put aside personal interests and unite. If we lose this piece of our homeland, the next [loss] will be Armenia.

Our fathers and grandfathers defended our homeland for so many years not in vain. Thousands of young men died for Artsakh. They sacrificed their lives for us to leave our homeland and flee to other countries for a piece of bread, in search of a good life? Who will I be in a foreign land?

Diplomats and representatives of international structures accredited in Armenia got acquainted with the situation on the ground in Kornidzor, where a convoy with humanitarian cargo has been standing since the evening of July 26

My youngest son is three years old, middle son is four, and oldest son is ten. The eldest, Karo, has several chronic diseases: epilepsy, diabetes, thyroid problems.

He periodically needs to undergo treatment, for which he is often forced to turn to doctors in Yerevan. There are no specialists here.

During the blockade, thanks to the Red Cross my son and I traveled to Armenia three times for treatment and returned. Knowing the situation, each time in Yerevan I bought a little more medicine for my child. I thought while we use it, the Lord will send something.

Many people say to me: “Knowing Karo’s problems, why did you come back and didn’t stay in Armenia?” It has always been difficult to get the medicines necessary for my son here, now they are simply not available.

When there are no drugs, epilepsy attacks become more frequent, the child becomes uncontrollable. And with sharp fluctuations in blood sugar, he loses consciousness and falls into a coma.

During a press conference, the Prime Minister of Armenia stated that the government is in no hurry to apply to the UN Security Council to consider the situation in NK, since the result is more important than the fact of holding hearings

At that time, he himself noticed one of the medicines he needed on one of the back shelves of the pharmacy. He screamed with joy. “Mommy, I found my cure, my life will last another 10 days.”

It is difficult, but we try to survive like a tough nut.

We only have a lot of watermelons. Dairy products are virtually non-existent. There is only one place and there are terrible queues. First you need to go and sign up, and the next day stand in line to buy.

Only expensive whiskeys and spices remained in the shops. And what should I cook with spices?

Today in Nagorno-Karabakh there is a struggle for survival. The world does not believe that there is famine, but there is. Today there are still tomatoes, but in a month they will be gone.

We are all Armenians, residents of both Armenia and Karabakh. The Armenian people must stand up, we must try together to find a way out of the current situation.

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I was born and live in the Republic of Artsakh. I am 25 years old, I am married, I have a daughter of one and a half years, we will soon have twins.

From the first day of the blockade, there were queues everywhere. As a pregnant woman, they mostly give way to me. But others have to stand for hours. Fainting often happens in lines. People are malnourished, can’t stand in line in the heat.

All pregnant women have beriberi, because until recently there were no fruits and vegetables. I’m lucky with my relatives who grow things.

No gasoline to go to the hospital. Fortunately, there is an electric car owner who helps pregnant and sick people get there.

Pharmacies are completely empty, there is no baby food, many babies need formula. My daughters are due in a few days. I don’t even want to imagine what would happen if I faced this problem as a mother.

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At the beginning of the blockade, it was possible to leave and spend the pregnancy in a more relaxed atmosphere. But I didn’t want to.

Even now, when the situation has become worse, I do not intend to leave her homeland. Here we are at home, we are happy despite the difficulties. Everything can be overcome, if only there is peace.

Residents of NK were left alone with their worries and problems. But we want to appeal to everyone who has the opportunity to somehow influence this situation. Help us. Today we need everyone’s support.

We are all waiting for the world to recognize our right to self-determination, for the international community to force the opening of the Lachin corridor so that ties with mother Armenia can be restored.

All residents of NK are against the movement of goods and people along the Aghdam road. We do not need a humanitarian corridor, but a full-fledged road along which we can move freely. The use of the Aghdam road is the path to integration, we are against it.

I really hope that all this will end one day and we will remember these times as a very bad dream.