STEPANAKERT, November 26. /TASS/. About 30,000 Stepanakert residents have returned to their homes after the cessation of hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh, Stepanakert Mayor David Sarkisyan said on Thursday.
“As of today, there are from 28,000 to 30,000 residents in Stepanakert. In the most difficult period, 200-300 people stayed in the town. I believe all residents will return because peacekeepers have come to protect them,” the mayor said.
According to the data of open sources, about 53,000 people lived in the capital of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic before the military confrontation.
Residents of communities currently under the control of the Azerbaijani forces are also arriving in Stepanakert. The local authorities are renting hotels, houses and apartments for them, the mayor said.
The authorities are providing residents with food rations with staple foodstuffs: buckwheat, pasta, flour, sugar and canned food, he said.
“People need foodstuffs, blankets, clothes, building materials. We are giving all this out. This aid comes from Armenia, Russia and other countries,” the mayor said.
Five more humanitarian aid distribution points will soon open in Stepanakert where Russian peacekeepers will be working, he said.
Generally, the presence of Russian peacekeepers makes residents feel calm and secure, the Stepanakert mayor said.
“We have normal contacts with the peacekeepers. It will be better, if they can walk around the city as well. If they walk freely without automatic guns, on leave, for example, our women, children and mothers will see that their security is ensured,” the mayor said.
A half of Stepanakert buildings, including the civil infrastructure, have been damaged in shelling attacks, the mayor said.
“A total of 45-55% of buildings in the town have been damaged. They include hospitals and schools and a building of the Emergencies Ministry,” he specified.
The work to restore the buildings has already begun, he said.
On November 9, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan signed a joint statement on a complete ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh starting from November 10.
Under the peace deal, the Azerbaijani and Armenian forces will maintain the positions that they held, following which some districts will pass over to Azerbaijan’s control while Russian peacekeepers will be deployed along the engagement line and the Lachinsky corridor that connects Karabakh with Armenia.
According to the Russian Defense Ministry, the Russian peacekeeping contingent in Nagorno-Karabakh is comprised of units from the 15th separate motor rifle (peacekeeping) brigade of the Central Military District.
The Russian peacekeepers have set up observation posts along the engagement line in Nagorno-Karabakh and along the Lachinsky corridor that connects Armenia with the enclave to exercise control of the ceasefire observance. The peacekeeping mission’s command is stationed in the area of Stepanakert in Nagorno-Karabakh. The situation is being monitored around the clock.
Under the control of Russia’s Inter-Agency Humanitarian Response Center, the Russian peacekeepers are also providing for the safe return of refugees and the movement of civilians across the engagement line to their homes.