The Forgotten Refugees

For the past 13 years, 250km southwest of Baku in the Azeri town of Imishli, 1,500 IDPs (internally displaced persons) have been living in discarded train carriages lined up along the unused train tracks. These IDPs are Azeri families who fled their villages during the 1992-1994 war in Nagorno Karabakh and have little prospect of returning to their original homes.

It is estimated that about 20,000 people lost their lives during the conflict, and that more than one million others fled their homes. Since the ceasefire agreement over a decade ago enmities have lingered on both sides. The ethnic Armenians now make up the entire population of Nagorno Karabakh, however, and show no signs of willingness to compromise or give land back to the Azeri they displaced. The Azeri are bitter about the loss of the lands they regard as rightfully theirs and they dream of one day returning to their homes. Meanwhile, the Azeri government appears to use the IDPs as political pawns in its unfinished dispute over Nagorno Karabakh. These IDPs are a visual reminder of the war.

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