Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict: When hope gives way
- “I would sacrifice all the cattle I have and donate money to every mosque if I could have him back,” says Galandar’s mother in desperation.Aida Aliyeva/ICRC
- Galandar, 18, went missing on 4 October 2020, after the escalation of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.Aida Aliyeva/ICRC
- Sevda and Nofal Aliyevs, who stay in Baku, Azerbaijan, had not heard from their son for almost a month since his last call when they started getting worried. “We checked all the hospitals in the region hoping to find him,” recalls Sevda. When that did not bring much clarity, they reached out to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to help them in the search.Aida Aliyeva/ ICRC
- After hostilities ceased, the family received news of their young son’s death and then his remains.Aida Aliyeva/ICRC
- “His sister had sat crying on this chair when Galandar was about to leave for military service as if she knew it would be their last meeting,” recalls Nofal.Aida Aliyeva/ICRC
- Galandar served in the military for ten months. When the conflict escalated, he was posted on the front line where he lost his life.Aida Aliyeva/ICRC
- “Galandar was a professional kick-boxer. He had won many medals and certificates at different championships. He was only getting started in life,” says Nofal, displaying his son’s awards with pride.Aida Aliyeva/ICRC
- The last few years have been very tough for Nofal, who suffered a heart attack and underwent a surgery apart from losing his son. Yet he toughens up and deals with his sorrow in silence, without a tear to show. Gently caressing the cold tombstone over his son’s grave, Nofal shares that there is no way but to face life’s harsh experiences.Aida Aliyeva/ICRC
- Unlike her husband, Sevda refuses to accept the tormenting reality of her son’s loss.Aida Aliyeva/ICRC
- Galandar is buried in the Alley of Martyrs along with thousands of others who were also killed during the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Endless rows of graves, weeping mothers and relatives bearing blank looks have become a common scene in the alley.Aida Aliyeva/ICRC
- Sevda weeps over her son’s memories and wonders how she can ever move on.Aida Aliyeva/ICRC
- “Every knock on the door rekindles a hope that maybe Galandar is back,” she cries, echoing the longing of every mother living through a similar reality.Aida Aliyeva/ICRC
Thousands of people have gone missing in connection with the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Nearly 18,000 people are waiting to find out what happened to their loved ones who went missing during the conflict. They are united by uncertainty and the hope that one day their loved ones might return. Every once in a while, though that hope is shattered, just as it was for the Aliyevs when they heard that their only son, Galandar, had died and they then received his remains.
The ICRC is an impartial, neutral and independent organization whose exclusively humanitarian mission is to protect the lives and dignity of the victims of armed conflict and other violence and to provide them with assistance.
We support the families of people who have gone missing in connection with the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, assessing their needs and explaining the process of recovering and identifying human remains. We also follow up with each family, offering them psychosocial support.