Karabakh fighting turns residents into ‘vagabond’ refugees

Some 150 people from Nagorno-Karabakh republic have been living in five guesthouses in Dilijan for several days already. (AFP)
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Updated 09 October 2020

Karabakh fighting turns residents into ‘vagabond’ refugees

  • The worst fighting since an all-out war in the early 1990s has seen hundreds of families escape across the border into Armenia
  • It has already cost hundreds of lives

TEGH, Armenia: We’ve become vagabonds,” says Knarik Movsisyan, one among the tens of thousands forced to flee fighting between Armenian separatists and the Azerbaijani army in the breakaway territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.
The worst fighting since an all-out war in the early 1990s has seen hundreds of families escape across the border into Armenia.
It has already cost hundreds of lives, and authorities in Nagorno-Karabakh say half the population — some 70,000 people — have fled, mostly women and children.
Many are in Tegh, a peaceful scene of cows and rural hills, though distant explosions can now be heard from over the frontier.
“There are around 800 refugees in the village. Children, women, grandparents. The young are still back there, fighting in the war,” said one local resident.
Gyulvart, 49, came with her two youngest children, but most of the family stayed behind. She is desperate to return as soon as possible.
“My son, my husband, all my close relatives, all the young people are still there,” she said.
“I’m afraid that I’m raising my children for a war that will not end,” she said with tears in her eyes.
For Knarik, a nurse at a rural clinic in southern Karabakh, it is the second time she has had to flee in her life.
The first was when she lost her home and her parents to the earthquake that devastated northern Armenia in 1988.
“We want peace, we want our army to win and it will win,” she told AFP.

An Armenian-majority enclave within Azerbaijan, Nagorno-Karabakh declared independence from Azerbaijan after the breakup of the Soviet Union, triggering a brutal conflict that ended in a 1994 cease-fire but has never been fully resolved.
The latest fighting came suddenly, leaving many without time to prepare.
“We left in bare feet — we were wearing slippers — can you imagine?” said Maro Hagopi Petrosyan, 67, now in the town of Dilijan, around 100 kilometers (60 miles) from the Armenian capital Yerevan.
“It’s terrible... the house, the roads are in ruins. Even if we wanted to go back, we can’t.”
Kristina, who fled the town of Martuni, said she saw a bomb fall on her neighbor’s house, killing him and his child.
She hid in her mother-in-law’s cellar for hours before feeling safe to run.
Zabella Bejanyan, 53, stayed in the forest for three days, sleeping in her car with her six children.
She is determined to make it home as soon as possible, “even if there is nothing left, no house, it doesn’t matter,” she said.
“The important thing is that the children are safe and we are alive. We will return to our land,” she vowed.


Study finds AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine follows genetic instructions

Updated 22 October 2020

Study finds AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine follows genetic instructions

  • Bristol University virology expert David Matthews: The vaccine is doing everything we expected and that is only good news in our fight against the illness
  • AstraZeneca, which is developing the vaccine with Oxford University researchers, is seen as a frontrunner in the race to produce a vaccine to protect against COVID-19

LONDON: AstraZeneca’s Oxford COVID-19 vaccine accurately follows the genetic instructions programmed into it by its developers to successfully provoke a strong immune response, according to a detailed analysis carried out by independent UK scientists.
“The vaccine is doing everything we expected and that is only good news in our fight against the illness,” said David Matthews, an expert in virology from Bristol University, who led the research.
AstraZeneca, which is developing the vaccine with Oxford University researchers, is seen as a frontrunner in the race to produce a vaccine to protect against COVID-19.
The first data from late-stage large-scale clinical trials being conducted in several countries around the world, including Brazil, the United States and Britain, are expected to be released before the end of the year.
The vaccine — known either as ChAdOx1 or AZD1222 — is made by taking a common cold virus called an adenovirus from chimpanzees and deleting about 20% of the virus’s instructions. This means it is impossible for the vaccine to replicate or cause disease in humans.
The Bristol researchers’ focus was to assess how often and how accurately the vaccine is copying and using the genetic instructions programmed into it by its designers. These instructions detail how to make the spike protein from the coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2 that causes COVID-19.
Once the spike protein is made, the immune system reacts to it, training the immune system to identify a real COVID-19 infection.
“This is an important study as we are able to confirm that the genetic instructions underpinning this vaccine ... are correctly followed when they get into a human cell,” Matthews said in a statement about the work.
His team’s research was not peer reviewed by other scientists, but was published as a preprint before review.