Strength, hope and comfort amid flight to Armenia

Barnabas provides aid to Christians forced to flee Nagorno-Karabakh

Hasmik’s baby was born during the hardships of the Azerbaijani blockade of Nagorno-Karabakh. Hasmik, a biology teacher, and her husband, a security worker, left their homeland on 25 September, carrying the baby in their car along with their three older children, the eldest of whom is ten. They spent three days on the road before reaching Armenia.

Now the extended family of eight are living in the Armenian capital Yerevan in the home of a distant relative. They are grateful for the donations of Barnabas supporters. “This money is very important for us so that we can buy winter clothes and shoes for our four children,” explained Hasmik.

Father-of-four Nverik thanks God and Barnabas for the assistance given to his family. “I will spend this money on improving our family living conditions,” he said as he signed to confirm receipt of the grant.

Nverik and his family left Artsakh on 27 September and spent 23 hours travelling by car before arriving in Armenia, where they are now living with a distant relative. It was the third time they have had to move because of Azerbaijan’s occupation; the first was during the six-week 2020 war.

In Karabakh, Nverik’s wife worked in a village kindergarten, and he was a Major in the army. Now Nverik is looking to earn a living as a taxi driver using the only thing he still owns, the family car.

We live by the grace of God, giving glory every evening and morning. It gives us strength to cope.”

These are the words of grandmother Anahit, just one of tens of thousands of Christians who arrived exhausted, malnourished and traumatised in Armenia after leaving almost everything they had behind.

They fled their ancestral homeland of Nagorno-Karabakh where Armenian Christians have lived and worshipped for more than 2,000 years, towards the end of September 2023.

They had already endured almost ten months of terrible deprivation and near-starvation while blockaded by neighbouring Muslim-majority Azerbaijan, followed by a full-scale invasion by the Azerbaijani military, which began on 19 September.

Almost the entire 120,000 Christian population – including 30,000 children – has left the disputed enclave that, by a quirk of history, lies within the borders of Azerbaijan.

Christian families crammed whatever possessions they could into whatever means of transport they had available to leave for Armenia. Anahit and her husband were travelling with their four grandchildren.

Their faith gives them the strength to make a fresh start in a new land and they thank God for the help given to them by Barnabas that sustained them on their arrival.

Hope, comfort and solidarity

The couple and their grandchildren are among 1,650 newly arrived Christian families most in need who are receiving financial assistance from Barnabas.

“By providing financial and spiritual support, the programme brought hope, comfort and a sense of solidarity”

Our church partners in Armenia advised us that providing a cash grant to individual families was the best and quickest way to help them. The money, donated by Barnabas supporters, has been distributed through church leaders who have also given much-needed spiritual and emotional support to refugees young and old.

This has had a profound effect. “By providing financial and spiritual support, the programme brought hope, comfort and a sense of solidarity,” said our church partners.

Elizaveta is using the money she has received from Barnabas to buy food to sustain her children. “Thank you for helping us,” she said.

She fondly remembers her home in Nagorno-Karabakh, where vegetables they grew in the yard of their apartment provided them with vital nutrients during the difficult days of the Azerbaijan blockade.

“On 25 September we left our house with seven people in our own car and were on the road for three days,” she said.

She and her husband, who is hearing-impaired, and their children are now living with a relative in Yerevan. They hope one day to move to a home where they will be able to grow vegetables again.

“We miss our beloved Nagorno-Karabakh, but we know these are the conditions now and we must adapt,” said mother-of-four Marta, thanking Barnabas for its financial assistance. “Life goes on, we must continue to live for our children.” The family fled their homeland in September and returned to the same Armenian shelter where they had been given refuge when displaced during the six-week 2020 war between Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh.

“Despite how hard it is for us, we don’t let the children feel it. Now they are adapted and living comfortably here.”

Project reference: PR1539

More stories