Twenty-two years ago, their lives were upended, livelihoods uprooted and dreams dashed. But displaced people from Aghdam, the scene of one of the fiercest battles of the Nagorno-Karabakh war, still harbor fond memories of their hometown and hope to return.
The city of Aghdam, located in southwestern Azerbaijan, was the theater of pitch battles during the Nagorno-Karabakh war. On July 23, 1993, Aghdam fell to Armenian forces, with an entire population forced to make headlong retreats and leave their livelihoods and dreams behind. A once-bustling town of 40,000 inhabitants was reduced to a rubble, with 6,000 people killed and scores more displaced.
The total loss inflicted on Aghdam is estimated at over $13 billion.
The bullet-scarred city is now a ghost, but memories of those who fled are well alive.
Meydan TV spoke with internally displaced people from Aghdam living in hostels in Darnagul. For over 22 years, they have been living in cramped rooms in abject conditions. One dorm houses 115 people, with as many as 20 people living in one room without water.
Aghdam IDPs who fled their homes say that the difference between their lives back home and here is beyond description. The heat and cold make the living conditions in hostels unbearably difficult. They hope to be transferred to better housings.
Though more than two decades have passed, memories have not receded from public consciousness. IDPs reminiscence about the “nightingale singing” that used to wake them up in pre-war days, the crisp air of their peaceful days, and dreams for marriage and better lives violently snatched by war.
A lot of them look forward to returning to Aghdam.
Some say the day they had to leave Aghdam was the most difficult time of their lives, and they are weary from living conditions here. There is a small market in the camp, and a few shops and handicraft workshops on the first floor of the building where IPDs trade. However, people here have neither permanent jobs nor can they afford to open a decent shop.