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Insecurity and Fear: Rare footage from the Armenian-Azerbaijani border

For decades, people along the Armenian-Azerbaijani border have been living amidst fear and serious security risks. They feel the consequences of hostilities related to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict every day, as they work their land, walk home from school, eat dinner in their yard. Safer places to find shelter in case of emergency are much needed in these communities.

Isa Musaev, 90, and his wife, who live in Alibayli (Tovuz region, Azerbaijan), have been caught more than once by shooting. Once, they could not make it into their house to hide.  “I was holding onto the door. I felt like I was lifted up and down,” Isa recalls. “A splinter hit my hip. Another hit the roof.”

On the other side of the border, people face the same risks. Misha Khudaverdyan, 69, from Berkaber (Tavush region, Armenia) remembers his sleepless nights during shootings: “The bullets hit my house very often. I took them out of windows and walls. I couldn’t sleep at night”.

To make sure that these people have at least a safer entrance to their homes and are somehow secure inside, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has built protective walls and walled in windows for those houses and public places exposed to the crossfire on all sides of the conflict.

Beyond people’s homes, education has also been affected by shooting. For many years, parts of the school in Vazashen (Armenia) were not used because it was too dangerous. “We were using only the sports hall in this part of the building – because we didn’t have any alternative – which was very dangerous”, Olya Dallakyan, the school principal explains.

In Alibayli village (Azerbaijan), the number of kids studying at school is decreasing. “It is very difficult to work, to maintain students’ participation in classes under these dangerous conditions. Before, when there were no war conditions, the school had to run two shifts of classes as the building was small”, Rasim Aliyev, the school principal, says. Now there are only 100 kids studying at the school.

On all sides of the conflict, the ICRC has reinforced school walls and protected windows but these walls will not endure if heavy shelling happens. The ICRC is also helping schools to repair and equip safer rooms where children, teachers and people from neighbouring houses can wait safely until the shelling stops.

All these measures are contributing to provide safer access to schools and education despite the ongoing conflict.

 

For more information and interview requests, please contact:

Ilaha Huseynova, ICRC Baku, ihuseynova@icrc.org

Zara Amatuni, ICRC Yerevan, zamatuni@icrc.org.

 

SHOTLIST

Location: Various (Azerbaijan, Armenia)

Length: 04:39 min.

Format: HD H264 .mov

ICRC ref: AV899N

Camera: Anastasia Yefimova

Filming Date: 2018, May-June

Copyright: ICRC access all

 

00:00-00:05 House protected by ICRC walls, the village of Alibayli, Azerbaijan

00:05-00:10 Trace of a bullet in a wall, the village of Alibayli, Azerbaijan

00:10-00:13 Isa Musaev and his wife walking in their yard, the village of Alibayli, Azerbaijan

00:13-00:18 Isa’s yard, the village of Alibayli, Azerbaijan

00:18-00:23 Summer kitchen spot with traces of bullets, the village of Alibayli, Azerbaijan

00:23-00:28 Isa and his wife in their yard, the village of Alibayli, Azerbaijan

00:28-00:42 SOUNDBITE Isa Musaev, 90 (in Azeri):

«I was holding the door. I felt like I was lifted up and down. A splinter hit my hip. Another hit the roof. Those that were flying low hit her at her foot»

00:42-00:46 Isa’s yard with ICRC wall, the village of Alibayli, Azerbaijan

00:46-00:52 Isa and his wife talking to ICRC field officer, the village of Alibayli, Azerbaijan

00:52-00:55 Isa’s wife sick legs, the village of Alibayli, Azerbaijan

00:55-01:02 Isa and his wife sitting at the table, the village of Alibayli, Azerbaijan

01:02-01:05 ICRC protective wall in Isa’s yard, the village of Alibayli, Azerbaijan

01:05-01:22 SOUNDBITE Khudaverdi Rzaev, ICRC in Azerbaijan (in Azeri):

«The ICRC conducts assessments at individual houses located at the exposed areas and take necessary measures to increase security of the families».

01:22-01:29 Azeri village on the left of the water reservoir, Armenian village on the right, international border between Azerbaijan and Armenia

01:29-01:34 Misha Khudaverdyan in his yard, the village of Berkaber, Armenia

01:34-01:38 Misha’s wife cracking nuts in the yard, the village of Berkaber, Armenia

01:38-01:44 Misha walking in front of his house, the village of Berkaber, Armenia

01:44-01:48 Hens in the shed in Misha’s yard, the village of Berkaber, Armenia

01:48-01:54 Misha showing the walled-in window of his house, the village of Berkaber, Armenia

01:54-02:04 Misha showing metal protection of the window in his basement, the village of Berkaber, Armenia

02:04-02:18 SOUNDBITE Misha Khudaverdyan, 60 (in Armenian):

«The bullets hit my house very often. I took them out of windows and walls. I couldn’t sleep at night».

02:18-02:22 Misha on the swing of his yard, the village of Berkaber, Armenia

02:22-02:28 Kids playing next to building with traces of bullets, the village of Vazashen, Armenia

02:28-02:34 Playground protected by ICRC wall, the village of Vazashen, Armenia

02:34-02:38 Thickness of ICRC protective wall, the village of Vazashen, Armenia

02:38-02:55 SOUNDBITE Armen Karamyan, ICRC in Armenia (in Armenian):

«For border population of Tavush region, we set up passive protective measures including «safer spaces» and protective walls. We also wall-in windows for kindergartens, schools, and other public places».

02:55-03:01 School principal and ICRC field officer examine protective door, the village of Vazashen, Armenia

03:01-03:04 School building with walled-in windows, the village of Vazashen, Armenia

03:04-03:09 School principal showing traces of bullets next to a window, the village of Vazashen, Armenia

03:09-03:14 Girls walking inside the school, the village of Vazashen, Armenia

03:14-03:33 Shots of art classes at school, the village of Vazashen, Armenia

03:33-03:42 SOUNDBITE Olya Dallakyan, school principal of Vazashen school (in Armenian):

«We were using only the sports hall in this part of the building –because we didn’t have any alternative - which was very dangerous».

03:42-03:57 Affected by shooting parts of school building, the village of Alibayli, Azerbaijan

03:57-04:05 Classes at school, the village of Alibayli, Azerbaijan

04:05-04:20 SOUNDBITE Rasim Aliyev, school principal of Alibayli school (in Azeri):

«It is very difficult to work, to maintain students’ participation in classes under these dangerous conditions. Before, when there were no war conditions, the school had to run two shifts of classes as the building was small».

04:20-04:32 Kids playing during the break, the village of Alibayli, Azerbaijan

04:32-04:36 Girl standing in front of ICRC protective wall in the school yard, the village of Alibayli, Azerbaijan

 

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