"I will find my home in Lachin with my eyes closed even after 30 years"

A photo story about a family of IDPs who lived in an abandoned kindergarten for 23 years

"I can describe the liberation of Lachin like this: imagine that you lost all your money. Then you go back to search for it, and here it is on the ground. That's how I rejoiced. Lachin was all that I had, and I lost it. And now I've found it again. I can't even put into words how I feel."

Elkhan Askerov, 64, was born in Lachin and spent his childhood and youth there. During the First Karabakh War, the city came under the control of the Armenian armed forces.
I volunteered for the battalion responsible for the defense of Lachin. We would never have thought that we could lose the city. When on May 4 and 5 Lachin was shelled for the first time from "Grad" s, 17 people were killed. The panic began. On May 8, we took the children out. And when the military equipment was withdrawn from Lachin, we were left empty-handed and could do nothing.

After the ceasefire was announced in 1994, Elkhan Askerov and his family, along with thousands of other internally displaced persons, began to wander from place to place.

From Lachin we came to Imishli. My father worked in a meat factory, it was an important position, so he had many friends in different cities. For two months in Imishli we lived with his friend. Then 8 months in Beylagan. Then we came to Baku and settled in this abandoned kindergarten. And we've been here for 23 years."
Now the Askerov family is waiting for the day when they can return to Lachin. Elkhan Askerov says that the first thing he will do is find his home.

“Thirty years have passed, but I swear to God, with my eyes closed I will find my home. I am not yet worried about what I will do there and how I will earn a living. First I need to go there, to get a piece of mind.

Our land is so wonderful that if you eat an apple and bury the seeds, tomorrow there will be a tree. Probably, I will plant a garden and work there. The older a person is, the stronger his connection with the land. That's why we want to go back to our homes so bad."
Gulzar Mammadli
This story is part of the "Tell Me About Yourself" media project, where young Azerbaijanis whose families were displaced as a result of the Nagorny Karabakh conflict tell their stories. The authors are solely responsible for these materials. This is an European Union-funded project implemented by International Alert.
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