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Yulia Grigoryants : Inhabitants of the Empty


In 1988 7.0 Richter-scale earthquake struck the northern Armenia. The quake killed at least 25,000 people in the region. Thousands more were maimed and hundreds of thousands left homeless. Gyumri, Armenia’s second largest city bore much of the damage. Large-scale war by the early 1990’s, the collapse of the Soviet Union, an energy crisis, and blockade that left landlocked Armenia with just two open borders.

A quarter of a century later, Gyumri has the country’s highest poverty rate at 47.7%. The city has lost nearly half of its population since 1988 also because of the labor migration. Few thousand families are still living in makeshift shelters, waiting for help. Many of them are not eligible for new housing, since they are not considered as direct victims of the earthquake. 25 years later they are still waiting for emergency improvements to their buildings…

Back in Soviet times these huge twin dormitory buildings accommodated around 60 families each. Today there are just four families living here… Four families and generations that were born and raised here. Among decaying walls and corridors. Living in this emptiness… Living their hopeless, imprisoned life…

Yulia Grigoryants

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