For over four months my 3.5-year-old niece has been asking me "Hibs ton kilakan?" (When are you coming home?).
I have no answer to the question.
I can only see my family in Artsakh (Karabakh) online, and I don't know when I will be able to return to my home. The road has been blocked by Azerbaijani "eco-activists" for more than four months.
The last time I saw my parents, my brother, my sister and her two children was the summer of last year, when I went to visit them. My father keeps bees in the village of Gishi and I went to help them.
I had planned to return in September to celebrate the birthdays of my sister Tatev and my niece Sara. But on September 12, fighting escalated on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border and my family convinced me to postpone the trip. They feared there would be attacks along the border with Azerbaijan.
And so I waited for December, collecting as many vacation days as possible to ensure I could spend the New Year holidays with my family. Above all, I knew I needed to be home in the small town of Martuni on December 28 for my mother’s birthday.
But it was not to be. The “eco-activists” blocked the road on December 12 and it remains closed to this day.
My only form of communication with my family is by phone and online calls—and even that is limited, as there are frequent electricity and telephone/internet outages in the conflict area. I asked my family to photograph their “blockade lives” and I documented my own, limited, connections with them.
This report was prepared before Azerbaijan’s April 28 claim that there is no blockade. Armenia has denied reports that traffic has resumed on the contested pass.
This feature story was prepared with support from the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) South Caucasus Regional Office. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views of FES.