ARDASHAT, Armenia. (KSEE) – In just a matter of days, history has unfolded in Armenia as the people of the neighboring territory of Nagorno Karabakh have been forced to leave their homeland and have crossed the border into Armenia.
It’s a crisis impacting thousands and KSEE24’s Stefani Booroojian visited one town where dozens of refugees are receiving shelter and humanitarian care.
The resilience of children just days after being forced from their homes. Smiles and laughter provide a momentary break from the realities of life.
They are the youngest of the more than 100,000 ethnic Armenians forced into Armenia from Nagorno Karabakh now under Azeri control; forced to become refugees without homes, jobs, and for some no idea what the future holds.
“We are in Ardashat Armenia. About 30 miles south of Yerevan an old gymnasium, converted into a shelter with 100 beds, a temporary place to stay while they scramble to create a new way of life,” said Erik Simonyan, a refugee. “The first thing that came to my mind the genocide that happened in 1915. And now even though the world is more civilized, it’s happening again.”
Erik Simonyan is here with eight other people from his family, including three children. He says he still cannot escape the sadness of what his family is going through.
“We were on those lands for thousands and thousands of years now we’ve lost it like we lost everything to the Ottoman Empire,” Simonyan explained.
Volunteers are doing their best to help. Markus Azadian with the organization “Bruntsk 2020” has been spreading the word on social media about the need for donations to provide beds and food until the families can find permanent housing and jobs.
“Listen We can give you a buffer of 3 or 4 days. Three nights we guarantee with Food, hygienic items with a bed. With a warm bed. Places to have a shower and get fresh after the long road from Artsakh to Armenia,” Azadian said.
There are heartbreaking stories too numerous to tell, and there are some that Azadian may never forget.
“There was an older woman in the morning and said, ‘ I’m 80. Where am I going to go now?’ What can you tell a person like that?” Azadian expressed.
The Prime Minister of Armenia assures the refugees they are welcome here, but there are no assurances that life will ever be the same in their new home.