Help our local partners realise their vision of hope for their communities
On September 13, Azerbaijan launched a full-scale military attack on the Republic of Armenia. Hundreds have been killed, and the bombs continue to fall.
Unlike the 2020 war, when Azerbaijan attacked the independent but unrecognized Armenian territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, Azerbaijan is now attacking the Republic of Armenia itself. If Armenia is defeated, the 120,000 Armenian Christians who live in the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh (or Artsakh) will likely be forced to leave their homes, or worse.
Our friends at Christian Solidarity International (CSI) spoke to our project partner in Nagorno-Karabakh, Vardan Tadevosyan, the director of the Lady Cox Rehabilitation Center, about the current situation.
CSI: Vardan, how are you and how is the situation in the Rehabilitation Centre?
Just now, my staff left the center for the day. They do not know if they will be able to come back tomorrow. Everyone works with their patients in silence, but they do their best to not show their mood in front of the patients. These poor wounded soldiers, they are feeling useless in the Centre, since they have big disabilities after the last war [in September-November 2020]. Many of our employees’ husbands or brothers or sons are in the army service. Imagine how they are feeling! We know that many newly wounded soldiers will come to us sooner or later after these days of battle, but we are now praying to have our guys wounded but not killed․
CSI: Do you have a shelter where patients are safe?
Unfortunately, we do not have any shelter. Our authorities didn’t care about shelters for the past 28 years (1994-2020). Very few buildings have shelters. During the 2020 war, all my staff and patients were safely evacuated to Armenia. I stayed here with two nurses and a driver. We were delivering medicine to the basements where the people were hiding during the war. Now we are building a shelter in the Centre’s backyard. We do hope that we will finish that construction and will have enough space for everyone who is in the Centre. The shelter will be accessible to the wheelchair users.
CSI: We have heard that staff and patients at the Rehabilitation Center are afraid because of what is happening. What do you tell them?
Of course the staff and patients are afraid, and they are more afraid because they realize that we all are unprotected. There is no hope for protection, no allied country to help us. We all see the situation in Europe, with the war in Ukraine. We feel that the Azerbaijanis will take this opportunity to kick us out from our motherland. Who will remember us? I tell my staff to pray and do not lose hope that this will be over soon with diplomatic decisions. But here we see no big progress. Every time [Armenian Prime Minister] Pashinyan meets with [Azerbaijani President] Aliev, we are soon after attacked by the enemy. The Azerbaijanis want Karabakh, but also the Syunik region in Armenia and of course the whole of Armenia. They never stop.
CSI: What about the supply with food, water, and electricity in Karabakh? Is it stable?
The food supply right now is OK, but we are not sure about the coming days. The food prices have gone up like everywhere in the world, but right now there is no problem yet. The water supply is good and electricity as well. But we understand that all these can be temporary.
CSI: Did anyone expect this attack on Armenia at this time?
No, we didn’t expect an attack on Armenia. We thought there would be a war soon, but that they would attack us [in Nagorno Karabakh], not Armenia.
CSI: And what about Nagorno Karabakh, which is surrounded by Azerbaijan’s army? What do you fear now?
We feel unprotected and of course we feel that this will be a very difficult time for us, especially when we will be without Armenia’s support. As you know, Armenia may soon recognize Artsakh [Nagorno-Karabakh] as part of Azerbaijan. There are no words to explain the people’s feelings about this. Imagine! After the 2020 war, we feel that we are in a horror movie, worse than the worst nightmares we had before the war.
CSI: What can CSI and its supporters currently do for you, for the Centre and for the people in Nagorno Karabakh?
CSI did support our project after the war and we are very thankful for it. We hope our collaboration will continue in the future. Thank you for all that you do. I hope we will have a future to have a chance for further collaborations. But I have no idea about the future. Poor Artsakh and people of Artsakh. We need now your prayers for the future.