'Whenever it rains, water leaks in, and in summer it gets so hot that it is impossible to breathe.'
In the village of Garajalli in Azerbaijan's central Ujar district, Nagorno-Karabakh veteran Shohrat Gasimov and his family have reportedly been on the waiting list for government-provided housing for almost ten years. They currently live in a small house made from manure bricks that hardly shelters them from rain, snow or the summer heat.
'We have two small children. The wind blows into our home, and whenever it rains, the water leaks in. Winter is coming, so I used part of my allowance to buy cellophane, which we put up everywhere. But can cellophane be used to make a roof? It will last for a month, at most. These are just makeshift things. My family and I need a normal home.'
Nine years on the waiting list
Gasimov lost his right leg fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh. Due to his disability, the 41-year old veteran is no longer able to work. He says he first applied for support back in 2009.
'By now it has almost been ten years, and we still do not have any updates. I applied for housing in 2009. Two years later, I learned that they had lost my documents. I had to re-register, and they told me that there was only one person before me on the waiting list. The days went by, and it was still never my turn. We asked a friend of mine for help. He found that I was, in fact, not number to on the list, but number nine. And even after so many years, I am still waiting. We really do not know who to tell about our problem.'
The Gasimov family struggles with the living conditions in their derelict house.
'I only have one leg. I need a normal home, but no one can help me get one. All the people who have been on the waiting list before me have received a home by now, but we have not. We've been told for years that we will be soon be moving into a new place.'
In which country do war veterans live in such conditions?
'I have kept my family hoping for years, do you understand what that means? When will our day finally come? Nobody would live in a home like ours – if you brought a dog here, it would not stay. But my family and I have been living here for years. In which country do war veterans have to live in such conditions?'
Gasimov explains that the state has been allocating funds to improve the social well-being of Karabakh veterans and their families for years, providing them with apartments, cars, and social allowances:
'Despite all these efforts our family still lives in these conditions. Any Azerbaijani seeing our home for themselves would be terrified. There is probably no other house like ours in this country. We do not live in a house, we live in a barn. The water leaks in whenever it rains, our lights go out when it's windy, and in summer it's impossible to breathe because it gets so hot.'
'My children should have a comfortable life'
The Karabakh veteran would like a proper home for his children, so that they can grow up in a better environment.
'I want my children to live a comfortable life. I want them to study and live in a decent apartment, I want them to grow up as worthy members of our society. If someone came to see how we live, they would be terrified. We are living a terrible life right now.'
The Ujar district department of the State Social Protection Fund told Meydan TV that Gasimov's documents are currently being processed, that we will be allocated a plot of land in his village, and that a house will be built for him in the near future.
'We are not the ones who put him on this waiting list. I can only say that we are working on it, and that the house will be ready soon.'