Chris Boian – Freelance Journalist

“Tea.” He motioned for me to sit. The old man was with a group of several dozen people who, hours earlier, had fled their village near the southern Azerbaijani town of Fizuli which had that day come under heavy shelling from advancing Armenian forces as the war for Nagorny Karabakh spilled outside the bounds of the disputed enclave itself. These people, among the first in the Fizuli district to arrive in the hot, dusty plain northwest of Horadiz along the Aras river that separates Azerbaijan from Iran, would be followed in the days ahead by many thousands more like them, the world’s newest refugees, or internally-displaced people, that summer of 1993. With the help of a couple of clapped-out cars, a flatbed farm wagon pulled by an ancient tractor, a donkey or two and a lot of worn suitcases, the people in this group had literally run for their lives until they could run no more, taking the clothes on their backs and what few possessions they could gather in the space of about an hour. A few had lost consciousness and been revived during their flight. All were on the verge of physical collapse from fear, thirst, heat.

 

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