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

Video British Fighters on Frontline of Islamic State Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid