STORY: “We don’t know what happens to us next. We don’t know what the government has in store for us. There is not a single chance to go back. If there were chances, we would not leave in the first place. It is very dangerous there.”
Thousands of ethnic Armenians fled Nagorno-Karabakh on Monday (September 25), saying they feared persecution and ethnic cleansing.
Desperate to leave, people were seen loading belongings into buses and trucks at the border with Armenia after Azerbaijan brought the breakaway region to heel by force a week earlier.
After crossing the border, many of the refugees arrive in the town of Goris where they are given shelter and food at hotels.
Alpine Mosvyan is still shaken by what she left behind.
“We ran into a hangar. Then to a basement in Stepanakert. The gunfighting was everywhere. All the time. Not even a five minute break. It was going on all the time. We could not leave the basement because it was dangerous. We could die at any moment.”
Petya Grigoryan says there was shelling on all sides. The dead were piling up he tells Reuters.
"Two refrigerated trucks filled to the top with bodies. And there's no place to even bury them."
Some of those refugees fleeing told Reuters Nagorno-Karabakh is finished for good.
Anna Agopyan doesn't think she'll see her home again.
"No, no, no. No one is going back. That's it. We are over this Karabakh topic for good, I think. Unless the world turns upside down and everything is good again for everyone everywhere. Because right now the world is a complete mess, no one knows what's going on. But maybe we will have some kind of a payback. Although that is not possible, just not possible."
The Armenian government is making preparations for thousands of refugees.
Adding that at least 6,650 people had arrived so far.
Azerbaijan said it launched the 24-hour military operation against Karabakh forces after attacks on its own citizens.
President Ilham Aliyev said his army had only targeted Karabakh fighters and that civilians had been protected.