Weeks of shelling could not force Irina Safaryan’s parents from their bunker in the southern Karabakh town of Hadrut. Only when Azerbaijan’s soldiers reached the settlement’s outskirts did the Armenian family agree to run. “We expected to go back to our houses in three or four days, maximum a week,” Safaryan says. They left behind the family photo albums. Fighting over the breakaway south Caucasus territory ended this month with Hadrut under Azeri control. “Nobody expected they were leaving their land, their house, for the last time,” Safaryan says. The Armenian exodus mirrors another from three decades earlier, when 600,000 Azeris fled the first war between the post-Soviet republics over Karabakh, among them Hagigat Hajiyeva. She had also believed she was only temporarily leaving her home city of Shusha, less than 100km from Hadrut, when she fled in 1992. “When we left Shusha we were thinking things would calm down and we would return,” Hajiyeva says. “Even after the Armenian occupation of the city, my family settled in [the Azerbaijan capital] Baku, but we still thought, ‘We’ll be back soon.’ It never happened.” The Azeri victory over Armenia in the six-week war over Karabakh has turned tens of thousands of… Read full this story
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