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Talish Family, Displaced by April War, Decides to Return to Artsakh

By Gayane Sargsyan

The Boulghadaryan family was one of the scores of families that were evacuated from the Artsakh village of Talish when fighting broke out last April.

Now, the family wants to return to their native village in the northeast of the country, close to the border with Azerbaijan.

The family now lives in Yaghdan, a village in Armenia’s northern Lori Province.

I met with 30-year-old Anna, five months pregnant, in the yard of their house. She was carrying a pail of water. Her children were silently playing.

“We purchased the wood with a loan,” she says to heat the house.

The family moved to Lori during the first days of the war. Anna and her five children first settled in Masis until her husband Sargis, who had gone off to fight as a volunteer, could return.

“I was at the front for sixteen days. I then saw my family and returned to Talish. There was nothing left. The houses had been pillaged,” says Sargis.

He was able to salvage a few household items before returning to Armenia. Various local and international agencies aided family – food, clothes, etc. Sargis says he wants to thank those who helped.

For months, the family’s only income has been the 40,000 AMD monthly salary Sargis earns as a guard at a hydro plant in Yaghdan.

After living in Yaghdan for the past six months, the family has decided to move back to Artsakh.

“We know no one here. There is no work and the house isn’t ours. One day, the owner can come and tell us to leave. Where would we go?” says Anna, adding that she is worried with her sixth child on the way. “The girls are growing up and ask why are other kids better clothed. We take out loans and can hardly pay the interest.”

The children also want to return to Artsakh, but not necessarily to Talish.  “They say that there is gunfire in Talish and that the village is no longer theirs,” says Anna.

“It’s safe here, yes. But you’re always a bit on edge because you own nothing here. You once had everything and now have nothing. I look at my family’s situation and, pardon my language, we lead a bum’s life,” says Sargis.

Before deciding to return to Artsakh, Sargis made several trips back to Talish, visiting the family cemetery and lighting candles at the church.

“It’s hard to explain in words why I go. I miss it all, Sargis says.

During his last visit to Talish, he understood that going back wasn’t an option.

“The village is still subject to shelling, like always. The frontline positions mostly get shelled, but living there isn’t possible. We’d like to go back, but…,” says Sargis adding that if a peace treaty is signed they would. “The graves of my ancestors are there. It’s where my children were born. My house, the trees I planted, are all there.”

Since moving back to Talish is not in the cards, for now, the family has accepted an invitation by the mayor of Drmbon to resettle there. Sargis agreed, on one condition only.

“I said we couldn’t stay in Drmbon very long. When the cabins in Alashan are furnished, we’ll move there. That’s where all the displaced Talish residents are. Thirty families have already moved in and another twenty will probably come,” says Sargis.

(Drmbon and Alishan are villages in the Martakert Province of Artsakh)

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