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In Pictures: Chaotic Scenes at the Exodus

Blankspot is on location in Armenia to cover the exodus from Nagorno-Karabakh. In a first photo collage, Rasmus Canbäck shows what is happening in the border town of Goris.

Helicopters roar over the southern Armenian town of Goris. The blue and red glow of police cars illuminates the dark streets, and Red Cross volunteers shout instructions to each other. The cars coming from Nagorno-Karabakh are filled to the brim with the belongings that refugees are leaving behind.

In central Goris, the city theater has been turned into a central hub for humanitarian aid. A police officer advises us not to enter.

“Let them be in peace as they take the food,” he says in a gentle plea. None of those inside need a bunch of cameramen running around right now.

Food is distributed outside the ICRC’s coordination center.

Armenian authorities reported on Tuesday evening that more than 20,000 people have registered as refugees in Nagorno-Karabakh. However, the actual number of refugees could be much higher. There are reports that many of those who have arrived have been redirected without the opportunity to register.

Many have been stuck in traffic jams for over twenty hours. Some say they have been on the road for thirty hours to cover a distance that usually takes only two hours. The region has been under blockade for nine months, and the humanitarian problems are severe. Many are malnourished and have developed illnesses as a result. There are elderly people who can hardly walk, and the children are exhausted.

The buses are transporting refugees after registration at the theater in Goris.

At the same time, devastating reports emerged from inside Nagorno-Karabakh on Monday that the region’s fuel depot had exploded. It is estimated that several hundred people were on-site to get fuel for their cars to flee.

According to local authorities in Nagorno-Karabakh, 290 people are injured, and 68 are killed. Only 28 of the deceased have been identified. Information is still lacking for around a hundred people.

This is also the reason why helicopters can be heard. Despite the previous ban on flights to Nagorno-Karabakh, Armenia was granted a flight corridor to evacuate severely burn victims from the disaster that is unfolding amid all the other catastrophes.

At all the hotels, there is information on how to contact the Red Cross.

In international media, the event has been noted but hasn’t garnered major headlines. One explanation is that Azerbaijan prevents all independent access to Nagorno-Karabakh, and both electricity and, often, the internet are shut off. The reports that come out are difficult to verify and are often based on personal accounts.

It’s yet another disaster that goes unnoticed by the world.

Blankspot will continue its reporting with larger stories.

Top photo: ICRC volunteers arrive with supplies. Photo by Rasmus Canbäck.


Blankspot is a crowdfunded Sweden based investigative journalism platform founded 2015. Our aim is to tell the untold stories: putting the overlooked corners of the world under the looking glass. Here you can support our coverage of the Azerbaijan offensive against Nagorno-Karabakh.