The Last Resort

“We don’t know how long we will be able to keep the families here without the help of the government, but we will stay by their side till the end.”

As the war broke out between Azerbaijan and the self-declared Republic of Artsakh in September, more than 100,000 refugees fled to Armenia.

Hotel owners in one Armenian tourist town near the border opened their doors: providing free food and accommodation for hundreds of families who didn’t have anywhere else to go.

When the number of refugees became too high for the hotels to manage, the Armenian government moved families around the country. Many ended up in the Bujakan Resort, a former holiday destination for government employees during the USSR, mostly abandoned since the fall of the Soviet Union.

But with the brutal Armenian winter approaching, the building was about to become uninhabitable: no heat, no hot water, and plumbing unlikely to survive the freezing temperatures.

November brought a peace treaty and an end to the conflict. Many refugees returned to Nagorno-Karabakh, although they did so fearfully: scared of life so close to the enemy.

But tens of thousands couldn’t go back. They have nowhere left to call home, and no more hope. Those who remain in the hotels and the resort know that they won’t be able to stay there forever. Every day, they live with the uncertainty of tomorrow.

Life for the refugees is one of painful limbo: a monotony that drags on day after day. Kids spend their days playing while the adults grieve for the loved ones that they lost. Some lost a husband or son. Everyone lost their homes and possessions.

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