Armenian civilians race to get supplies to front lines of regional war

Caroline Mishelle Aghajanian,Ally Giannini

Following is a transcript of the video.

These Armenian volunteers are rushing to get supplies to hospitals, soldiers, and civilians in Artsakh. That's because the region is the heart of a 30-year-old border dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan and has been under attack for about a month.

Karine Eurdekian: Nearly every hour, there are bombs dropped, and civilians have been hiding away in their bunkers, praying for their lives, quite literally.

Narrator: Human-rights organizations like Kooyrigs gather international donations to pay for the supplies. But delivering the aid is dangerous, since drones from Azerbaijan surveil the area.

Eurdekian: Just this week, our team member Anais headed to Artsakh, and we were able to travel because it was a misty day. Because of the mist, the drones were unable to detect her vehicle and she was able to go, make the deliveries, record where they were dropped off, and confirm the legitimacy and the effectiveness of Kooyrigs' donations and capture that to share with our audience and to share with our donors.

Narrator: The Republic of Artsakh, also known as Nagorno-Karabakh, has a majority ethnic Armenian population, but the region is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan. This is because at the start of the Soviet Union, Artsakh was given to Azerbaijan SSR as a province. This is the biggest fighting in the region since the early '90s after the fall of the Soviet Union, when Armenians and Azerbaijan fought the Nagorno-Karabakh War, which established de facto independence for the Republic of Artsakh. Despite flare-ups over the years, this is the first time Azerbaijan has confirmed it's using Turkish- and Israeli-made drones. Armenians see this as another threat to their existence because Turkey still denies the genocide of 1915, when the Ottoman Empire killed 1.5 million Armenians during World War I. Strikes have continued despite three recent attempts to declare ceasefires in the past month. Thousands have already died, and more than half of the population has been displaced. Volunteers from Armenia have taken it upon themselves to provide humanitarian aid to hospitals, refugees, and soldiers on the front lines.

Eurdekian: Every morning, Stepanakert Hospital, the main hospital in Artsakh, sends us a list of what they need, and from that point on, we contact our local pharmacy in Jrvezh, Armenia, which is a rural area in Armenia, a community-owned family pharmacy.

Narrator: Mariam Avagyan is the in-country director of Kooyrigs and is gathering the medical supplies.

Mariam Avagyan: We have dexamethasone, which is a strong anti-inflammatory. So, this is around 12 cents each. So, this is an antibiotic ointment that cures wounds. So this is about $1.90. This is albumin; this is one of the most expensive ones that is very important. It is for blood loss, and the small one is $28. The big one is $76. These are Armenia prices, so imagine how expensive it would be abroad.

Eurdekian: It's very important for us to source our supplies and aid from Armenia. It is extremely essential to consider the local economy and support the local villagers who are able to make all of our operations possible.

Narrator: The female-led Kooyrigs team collaborates with the Women's Support Center and is in coordination with the Artsakh Ministry of Defense.

Maro Matosian: Kooyrigs have been a great financial support to us. We provided the manpower and the logistics for gathering nourishment for the soldiers. They also provided us almost with $14,000 of medical supplies and crutches that we sent according to the request of Stepanakert Hospital and Goris Hospital.

Eurdekian: Just this weekend, Kooyrigs provided over 800 meal kits for soldiers serving in the southern region of Artsakh, where there was especially a lot of conflict.

Narrator: People from Artsakh have taken refuge throughout Armenia. Some are living in communal centers like this one, left to wonder if they'll ever go back.

Narrator: Some locals living in nearby towns are working to help feed soldiers and civilians.

Matosian: For the outcome of the war, we don't have another choice. We have to win. We have to be victorious. It's part of our existence here in Armenia. We want to have an Armenia, we want to have a nation, a people, a culture, a history, a future.

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