Journalist: Lilit Mkhitaryan

Into the unknown


When the war started on September 27, Shushanik Sevyan (37) and Ruzan Azaryan (32) took their children and fled from their homes in the Kalbajar region of Nagorno-Karabakh.

The two women, sister-in-laws married to two brothers, found shelter at a friend’s house in Gavar region, and hoped to wait out the fighting and return home. But six weeks later, when the ceasefire was signed, they were told that their village--Charektar--would be surrendered to Azerbaijan, one of many communities where ethnic Armenians were forced to abandon their homes. In a strange twist of fate, however, after 65 of the 70 families who lived in the village burned down their homes and fled, it was decided that Charektar would remain under Armenian control. The status of the village does not change Shushanik's fate--her house remains but it is surrounded by Azerbaijani-controlled land and she is too afraid to go back.

Shushanik, who lost her husband in April, took her five children, her husband’s coffin, and a few belongings, and left. Her sister-in-law Ruzan, whose husband fought in the war, joined her with her own three children. Today the two families are looking for a new place to call home, and trying to recapture a sense of normalcy after the trauma of losing everything.