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Azerbaijan Completes Second Phase of Former IDPs Relocation to Khojaly

By Nargiz Mammadli May 30, 2024

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President Ilham Aliyev met with the relocated residents in Khojaly, Karabakh, Azerbaijan, May 28, 2024 / President.Az

The government of Azerbaijan completed the second phase of relocating former Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) to the town of Khojaly in the country’s Karabakh (Garabagh) region on Wednesday.

A group of 24 families, comprising 88 individuals, who had been temporarily settled in dormitories, sanatoriums, pioneer camps, unfinished buildings, and administrative offices across Azerbaijan, returned home after 32 years.

The repopulation of Khojaly began on Tuesday, May 28th – Azerbaijan’s Independence Day – with 81 individuals from 20 families relocating to their hometown. Currently, 44 families, totaling 169 people, have been permanently resettled in Khojaly.

The first phase of Khojaly’s reconstruction includes two sections: one covering 167 hectares and the other 18 hectares. Construction, repair, restoration, and landscaping works are underway on 167 hectares, encompassing 140 individual houses, 48 cottage-style houses, and 110 apartments across nine buildings. All underground communication lines have been laid, and connections have been provided to the first 50 houses. Ninety percent of the communication work throughout the city has been completed. Additionally, work is being carried out on 92 Finnish-style houses located on an 18-hectare area.

On Tuesday, President Ilham Aliyev met with the newly returned residents in Khojaly to present them with keys to their new houses.

“The residents of Khojaly were scattered in various places and had to spend their years of independence separate from Khojaly. Just four months after the declaration of independence, Armenia committed the Khojaly genocide, killing innocent people and committing a crime against humanity. The residents of Khojaly effectively had to spend all the years of independence in different places, including the village of Agjakand,” President Aliyev said, adding that today’s Khojaly is more beautiful and will be even more beautiful with the completion of the reconstruction projects efforts and the return of locals.

Khojaly was occupied in 1992 during the full-scale war between Armenia and Azerbaijan, which ended with a ceasefire in 1994 and saw Armenia occupying 20 percent of Azerbaijan’s sovereign territory. While occupying Khojaly, Armenian forces committed atrocities against Azerbaijani civilians. During the assault, they killed 613 ethnic Azerbaijanis, among them 106 women, 63 children, and 70 elderly individuals. Additionally, they seized 1,275 as hostages, while 150 Azerbaijani nationals remain missing to this day. Another 487 suffered major injuries, including 76 children.

For three decades, Khojaly remained under Armenian occupation. In 2020, the conflict reignited when Armenia’s forces, stationed illegally in occupied Azerbaijani lands, attacked military positions and civilian settlements of Azerbaijan. In response, Azerbaijani forces undertook a 44-day counterattack, liberating over 300 settlements, including the cities of Jabrayil, Fuzuli, Zangilan, Gubadli, and Shusha, from Armenian occupation. The war concluded on November 10, 2020, with a tripartite statement signed by Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Russia. As part of this agreement, Armenia returned the occupied Aghdam, Kalbajar, and Lachin districts to Azerbaijan. However, certain parts of Khojaly and Khojavand districts, as well as the city of Khankendi, remained within the temporary monitoring zone of the Russian peacekeeping mission deployed in certain parts of the Karabakh region after the war. 

Khojaly was completely liberated from the occupation in 2023, after the Azerbaijani Armed Forces launched a one-day local anti-terrorist measure to neutralize illegal Armenian armed formations and their military infrastructure in the Karabakh region. On September 20, the illegal separatist regime requested through the Russian peacekeeping command to cease the local anti-terror activities by agreeing to withdraw and complete disarmament of the Armenian armed formations. 

On February 26, 2024, President Ilham Aliyev laid the foundation stone for the Khojaly Genocide Memorial, an emotional tribute to the victims of atrocities committed by Armenian forces.