1st Prize Stories, General News, Nominee, World Press Photo Story of the Year

18 December 2020

Valery Melnikov, Russia


Paradise Lost

Conflict between Azerbaijan and ethnic Armenians over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh resumed in September, after a lull of 30 years. In 1994, following the First Nagorno-Karabakh War, ethnic Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh, part of Azerbaijan, unilaterally declared an independent state. Little was done to resolve the status of Nagorno-Karabakh in the decades that followed, and sporadic military clashes continued. In 2020, hostilities, which each side blames the other for starting, led to a Second Nagorno-Karabakh War. Conflict continued until 9 November, when, in a settlement brokered by Russia, Azerbaijan regained possession of territory lost in the 1990s, but the regional capital, Stepanakert, was left under ethnic Armenian control. Although fighting is over, reconciliation will prove difficult both to Armenians who feel they have lost their homeland and are now displaced, and to Azerbaijanis returning to a region ravaged by war.

The story captures the most recent conflicts that have taken place in Nagorno-Karabakh. It is one of the most human representations of war that I have seen in a while. It really gives you a sense of what daily life, and what daily loss looks like, in quiet ways—in ways that are away from the eyes of the world.

NayanTara, General Jury chair

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