A growing stream of ethnic Armenian refugees is fleeing Nagorno-Karabakh after Azerbaijan took over the disputed region last week, the BBC reports. More than 6,500 people have so far crossed into Armenia from the enclave, which is home to the majority of about 120,000 ethnic Armenians.
They are leaving after the government in Yerevan announced plans to relocate those made homeless by the fighting. The agency warned that those who remain could face ethnic cleansing. Azerbaijan has said it wants to reintegrate ethnic Armenians as “equal citizens”.
The BBC spoke to some of the refugees who arrived on Sunday in the town of Goris, near the border between Armenia and Karabakh. “I have given my whole life to my country,” said one man.—It would be better to be killed than this.
“We have nothing,” says an elderly woman who has just arrived in Goris. She points to her sweater, saying it’s all she can bring with her from home. Her son is on crutches near her.
In the nearby village of Kornidzor, refugees say they do not believe they can be safe under Azerbaijani rule and do not expect to ever be able to return to their homes.
The Armenian government said in a statement on Sunday that hundreds of the refugees had already received government-funded housing.
But it has not published a clear plan for how it might deal with the influx. Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan announced last week that there are plans to take in up to 40,000 refugees.