Forced to Flee

The camp of the Armenian Catholic Ordinariate north of Gyumri, Armenia, was among the many church-run centers that welcomed refugees from Nagorno-Karabakh in September 2023 after Azerbaijan's seizure of the region resulted in the displacement of more than 100,000 people.

After Azerbaijan’s complete seizure of the ethnically Armenian region of Nagorno-Karabakh in September 2023, more than 100,000 people fled into Armenia, many with little more than the clothes on their backs. Amid this displacement crisis, the church in Armenia welcomed refugees and provided them with basic necessities, including at a camp of the Armenian Catholic Ordinariate north of Gyumri, in a town near the Armenia-Georgia border.

“People were forced to leave their land where they had been living for millennia,” said Father Grigor Mkrtchyan, rector at Holy Martyrs Cathedral in Gyumri. “We try to provide these people with more normal living conditions.”

“We had hardships, but I wish I could be back, to live there on our land, to be close to where I belong, close to my father’s grave,” said Boris Simonyan, who fled Nagorno-Karabakh for Armenia with his mother and siblings. His father was killed in the September military operation.

Hear from Father Mkrtchyan and two refugees from Nagorno-Karabakh in this video.

Read more about the efforts of the Armenian Catholic Ordinariate and Caritas Armenia in “No Turning Back” from the December edition of ONE

Olivia Poust is assistant editor of ONE.

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