News / Europe

    Nagorno Karabakh Cleans Up Old Conflict, Fears New One

    Nagorno-Karabakh Cleans Up from Old War, Fearing a New Conflicti
    X
    June 20, 2013 10:57 PM
    At this week’s G-8 summit, the leaders of France, Russia and the United States called for a peaceful resolution of the long running dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh. James Brooke visits this remote region and reports on this frozen conflict.
    James Brooke
    At this week’s G8 summit, the leaders of France, Russia and the United States called for a peaceful resolution to the long running dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh.
     
    Almost 20 years after fighting stopped over Azerbaijan’s breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh province, this mountainous land still holds its deadly secrets - anti-tank mines, anti-personnel mines and cluster bombs.

    Nick Smart, Nagorno-Karabakh program manager for Halo Trust, leads a team of 190 men demining this remote province, an area controlled for almost a quarter century by ethnic Armenians.

    "We are still 20 years on and finding perfectly functioning mines that are still killing people," Smart said of his work that is largely supported by money from USAID. "The ones that we are finding that are in good order are in very good order, you know, and probably will remain so for another 10 years."

    Since the year 2000, Halo has cleared 75 percent of known minefield and cluster bomb areas in Nagorno-Karabakh. Experts have discovered and detonated about 66,000 bombs.

    But the walls of Halo’s office display photos of villagers who are amputees.

    With only 160,000 inhabitants, Nagorno-Karabakh still has one of the world’s highest per capita rates for mine accidents.

    "The biggest problem remains in these green areas, these areas outside of traditional Karabakh," said Smart. "Now this is fertile farmland, strategically important during the war, but now remains very attractive farm land to the rural communities."

    In Nagorno-Karabakh, lowland farming fields inevitably stretch toward security zones, where armed Azeris and armed Armenians face each other across trench lines.

    On Tuesday at the G8 summit in Northern Ireland, the leaders of Russia, France, and the United States urged Armenia and Azerbaijan to abstain from war and to find a peaceful solution. But also on Tuesday, Russia’s Vedemosti newspaper reported that Russia is selling $1 billion in tanks, artillery and rocket launchers to Azerbaijan.

    In Yerevan, Armenia’s capital, Richard Giragosian directs the Regional Studies Center, a think tank. He worries about the fragile peace.
     
    "We have our own arms race in this region, where both sides are compelled to keep pace with increasing defense budgets, as well as procurement of more offensive weapons," he said.

    • Halo Trust, a U.S- supported charity, clears land mines and cluster bombs left over from the 1992-1994 war. (U. Filimonova/VOA)
    • Halo Trust workers plot locations of unexploded ordinance -- still deadly after 20 years. (U. Filimonova/VOA)
    • A portable display teaches children and farmers what landmines and hand grenades look like. (U. Filimonova/VOA)
    • Banners mark 25th anniversary of the 1988 vote by Soviet of People's Deputies of Karabakh to secede from Azerbaijan. (U. Filimonova/VOA)
    • Stepanakert's abandoned rail station is a reminder of Soviet days when trains descended the mountains daily. Now this route east is blocked by the 1994 ceasefire line separating Azeri and Armenian soldiers. (U. Filimonova)
    • In Shushi, the twin minarets of an abandoned mosque are reminders that this mountaintop city violently changed hands between Muslim Azeris and Christian Armenians several times during the 20th century. (U. Filimonova)
    • Agriculture remains the backbone of Nagorno-Karabakh's economy. But old land mines often block farmers from the best fields. (U. Filimonova/VOA)
    • At Stepanakert's Griboedova Middle School No. 3 boys know that obligatory military service faces them at age 18. (U. Filimonova/VOA)
    • As life in Stepanakert returns to normal, Armenian women catch up over lunch at an Italian restaurant, located across the street from a bombed out building. (U. Filimonova)
    • Shrouded in mists, Nagorno-Karabakh, or mountainous Karabakh, is a breakaway region of Azerbaijan, controlled for the last 20 years by ethnic Armenians. (U. Filimonova/VOA)

    You May Like

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    Factions Shift as Civilians Die in Syrian War

    Scenario likely only to further confuse military situation on ground and potentially worsen humanitarian crisis that already has grown to epic proportions

    Presidential Hopefuls Woo Minorities, Evangelicals

    Four GOP candidates to speak at forum at Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.