Nearly ten years have passed since many of Azerbaijan's refugees and internally placed people (IDPs) have had to flee Karabakh and the adjacent territories. People often ask me if these people who have been pushed off their land really do want to go back, since so much time has lapsed. I simply reply: take the guns away, take the frontline away, and you'll see what people will do by themselves. Right now they have no choice.
When you wonder about how these people survive, think about what you would do in the same situation. What if you were forced out of your home and had to look for food, take care of your children, find clothes and shelter? Where would you go for help? And who could you trust? Refugees struggle against enormous risks and dangers.
How have Azerbaijani refugees survived over the past 10 years? Well, they've done like any human being on earth would do. They've tried to manage - in the hopes of returning home shortly.
Didier Laye, Head of UNHCR in Azerbaijan since 1997
From Azerbaijan International (9.4) Winter 2001.
© Azerbaijan International 2002. All rights reserved.