Facing the aftermath: photos of a fragile peace in Nagorno-Karabakh

8 December 2020
Images and captions: Mykolas Juodele

On 10 November, after six weeks of heavy fighting, a Russia-brokered deal put an end to the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh, which had reignited on 27 September, after 26 years of ceasefire with occasional violent flare-ups. In the aftermath of the conflict, a different form of chaos ensued. According to the truce, Armenia had days to withdraw from the territories surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh, and give them to Azerbaijan. As crowds gathered in the Armenian capital Yerevan to protest the deal, which to many is seen as a defeat, and called for Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan to resign, the residents of Nagorno-Karabakh faced an uncertain future. For some, the truce means homecoming, for others — exile. Some of the residents of the capital Stepanakert hesitantly started to return to their homes, which they had fled, hiding from bombs in underground shelters. Those living in the districts set to be given to Azerbaijan had days to gather their possessions and leave. What couldn’t be carried was often set ablaze. Photographer Mykolas Juodele travelled to Nagorno-Karabakh and documented the aftermath of the conflict in the days after the peace deal was signed.

An Armenian man in his home in Kalbajar District (Karvajar in Armenian). After the peace deal was signed on 10 November, he was given 5 days to leave his home before Azerbaijan would take over the area. Later, the deadline was extended until 25 November.

Residents of Kalbajar have their last breakfast at home before the area is given to Azerbaijan.

Volodya and his dogs bid farewell to their garden in Kalbajar for the last time.

People pay a final visit to Dadivank Monastery, an important holy site for Armenians dating back to the 13th century, before the area is given to Azerbaijan. Now, the monastery is under protection of Russian peacekeeping forces.

Sand bags — a sign of the recent fighting —in front of a restaurant in Stepanakert, the capital of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Defense barricades still remain on the streets of Stepanakert a few days after the war.

The hairdressing salon of Valerik, was one of the few residents who remained in Stepanakert throughout the war.

People queue in front of the municipality building in Stepanakert, waiting to receive food aid packages.

Image originally produced for Chai Khana Media.

Those who left Nagorno-Karabakh and sought shelter in Armenia during the war wait to get on government-arranged buses to return to their homes in Stepanakert.

Burial ceremony of a fallen soldier at Yerablur’s Military Memorial Cemetery in Yerevan.

An old Lada crosses a bombed bridge in Kalbajar district.

Image originally produced for Chai Khana Media.

An abandoned house in Kalbajar district.

Displaced people reunite with their loved ones as they return to Stepanakert after the war.

Image originally produced for Chai Khana Media.

A family reunites in Stepanakert.

Power outages are still common in Stepanakert. During the war, Azerbaijani strikes in Stepanakert cut out all gas and electric supply.

A resident of Stepanakert returns to his grandparents’ home, empty since the start of the war.

Image originally produced for Chai Khana Media.

A soldier who was serving on the frontlines reunites with his son after the family fled to Yerevan during the war.

Those displaced by the conflict return to post-war Stepanakert.

A woman returns to her daughter’s home in Stepanakert. She is one of the only two people currently living in the six-storey apartment building.

A woman comes to collect her food aid package near the municipality building in Stepanakert.

​On 14 November, thousands of Armenians in Yerevan held a vigil for the soldiers that died in the war.

A man holds a candle in memory of the fallen soldiers. The vigil started in Yerevan’s central Freedom Square and a procession of participants walked through the streets of Yerevan.

Protests against the peace deal in Yerevan’s Freedom Square. Since 10 November, thousands of Armenians, primarily opposition supporters, have gathered in rallies chanting “Nikol, you traitor!” and “Nikol, go away!”, and calling for the resignation of Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan because of his handling of the conflict.

Read more

Facing the aftermath: photos of a fragile peace in Nagorno-Karabakh

Watch this rare Armenian-Azerbaijani documentary seeking to bridge competing narratives over the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

Facing the aftermath: photos of a fragile peace in Nagorno-Karabakh

‘Nationalism leaves little room for the voices of the in-between’: Armenians and Azerbaijanis on identity, war and peace

Facing the aftermath: photos of a fragile peace in Nagorno-Karabakh

The silent war: documenting the harsh reality of being a young male in Nagorno-Karabakh