“I am the mother of five children,” says the forcibly displaced woman from Stepanakert, then she corrects herself, “but now, I have four.”

41-year-old Narine Sahakyan lost her eldest son, 19-year-old Samvel, on September 19, but still can’t believe that he is gone.

“We were from Martuni, but then, in 2020, we moved to Stepanakert and started living there. My son went to the army… He was first in Askeran but then was moved…  Six people were killed at once. They say it happened on September 19. We were told that they were burned in the car. They shouted ‘help, help’, but there was no help,” says the woman. She states that he left her whole life in Artsakh, but \ does not remember anything, that her only loss is her son.

As a result of the military operations carried out by Azerbaijan, Narine Sahakyan’s husband Hmayak was wounded in the head, and she herself fell and broke her leg.

“I don’t even remember what happened next. When there were gunshots and the sounds of bombs, everything was mixed up. And I fell and broke my leg. I left my daughter in the basement of the house and started to look for my son. I was walking everywhere, wanted to know if he was injured, or what. I came back and learned that my husband was injured… Our journey took two days, and we arrived here on the third day,” says the mother of a son.

Mrs. Narine remembers that when it was already clear that they had to leave Stepanakert, she did not have time to get the necessary things for the younger children. “We could not take anything from home; the children were given things by other people. My husband is OK, his head is bandaged. It’s the same for us, whether it’s night or day, nothing will change for us anymore. My little son is seven years old; he says: go and bring Samvel, I say, oh dear, how can I bring him back? Before reaching Stepanakert too he was hungry and asked for bread, but we had nothing. We stopped at a place, but they didn’t give us bread: they said there was none.”

The family has now found temporary accommodation in Masis. They cannot say how long they will stay there. “My daughter is married, she lives in Charentsavan, but we will stay here yet.”

Ani Gevorgyan

Ani Gevorgyan is a journalist, photographer, and the winner of the Freedom of Speech Award. She has participated in photo exhibitions at the UN headquarters (New York) and the Geneva office, the Palace of Europe (Strasbourg), Paris, Rome, Berlin, Vienna and elsewhere.

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