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Families await reunions at Armenia-Azerbaijan border amid conflict

One man was hoping to find his son, another was looking for his father.

In a long, cold vigil at Armenia’s border with Azerbaijan on Thursday, a small group of Armenian men stood waiting for relatives they hoped would find a way home after the latest violent twist in decades of conflict between the two countries.

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Azerbaijan this week launched a lightning offensive to retake Nagorno-Karabakh, a breakaway region where ethnic Armenians had enjoyed de facto independence since a war in the early 1990s. Within 24 hours, the Karabakh Armenians were forced to agree to surrender and disarm.

The men at the hillside border checkpoint were waiting in the hope of greeting relatives escaping from Karabakh.

Armen Petrosyan, a 47-year-old tractor driver who lived in Karabakh until his village was lost to Azerbaijan in a 2020 war, had come from the nearby town of Sisian in the hope of finding his 20-year-old eldest son.

Petrosyan declined to name him, or say whether he had fought in Karabakh’s military, for fear of endangering the young man.

A man who gave his name as Hayk said he had spent several days on the border hoping to find his father who had been in Karabakh for work and was trapped there when Azerbaijan imposed an effective blockade of the territory last December.

In three hours spent at the checkpoint near the Armenian village of Kornidzor, Reuters reporters did not witness any reunions. Not a single civilian crossed over from the Azerbaijani side.


Some of the men were dressed in military-style fatigues and carried binoculars, through which they looked across the valley over territory controlled by Armenia until 2020 but now decisively abandoned to Azerbaijan.

They spent the time drinking coffee, arguing with Armenian border guards who refused to allow them to go any further, and voicing fears for the fate of their relatives.

“The world has closed its eyes on genocide,” said Petrosyan. “They are destroying all our history, our Christian heritage. Everything that there is.”

Azerbaijan denies Armenian charges that its policies amount to genocide or ethnic cleansing in Karabakh, and says it wants a smooth process of “reintegration”.

But distrust runs high on both sides, given the turbulent history between them and the tens of thousands killed in the past 35 years.

Several of the waiting men brought up the topic of the mass killings of Armenians under the Ottoman Empire during World War One, which Armenia mourns as a genocide.

Vachik, a 32-year-old car mechanic, was hoping to find relatives of his wife, but said he was losing hope that Azerbaijan would let the civilian population leave Karabakh.

“They will torture them, hold them there,” he said.

In the nearby town of Goris, a woman who gave her name as Oksana said she had been trapped outside her native Karabakh since June because of the Azerbaijani blockade.

With her voice raised and cracking with emotion, she said her children were still there, and she feared for their lives.

“If even one person gets out alive, I will be glad,” she said.

Read more:

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Russia says recorded five ceasefire violations in Karabakh

US expresses concern over Nagorno-Karabakh humanitarian crisis

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Almarai signs an MoU with the Authority of People with Disabilities to train and employ them.

Almarai Company signed a memorandum of understanding with the Authority of People with
Disabilities to train, qualify and employ persons with disabilities. This came on the sidelines of
the First International Labor Market Conference, organized by the Ministry of Human Resources
and Social Development on December 13 – 14, 2023, at the King Abdulaziz Convention Center
in Riyadh.

The memorandum was signed by the Chief Human Resources Officer of Almarai Company,
Fahad Mohammed Aldrees, and the CEO of the Authority of People with Disabilities, Dr.
Hisham bin Muhammad Al-Haidari.

“This agreement comes within the framework of the company’s social responsibility program, as
Almarai employs more than 500 people with disabilities, which is one of the most suitable work
environments for them.” Fahad Aldrees said. Pointing out that Almarai has the “Silent Line”,
which is one of its production lines that is designated for people with hearing disabilities.

It is worth mentioning that Almarai supports over 300 charity organizations annually across the
kingdom that operate in the field of community development.

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Central Phuket Shopping Center Prepared Surprises This Christmas & New Year 2024

Central Phuket Shopping Center, the luxury lifestyle landmark o Phuket, invites everyone to celebrate Christmas and New Year 2024 in The Great Celebration 2024 Campaign. Joining hands with global partner ‘The Pokémon Company’, Central Phuket bring over Pokémon, the super cute character popular around the world, for all locals and international fans. The special campaign launch presents a procession of cute ‘Pikachu’ alongside with the giant Christmas tree for the first time in Thailand.
This December, Central Phuket prepared many activities for shoppers when visiting Phuket! Experience the “Surprise of the Day” with free Cotton Candy for our little ones, a sweet and fluffy treat, a special gift from Central Phuket. Bring your kids to enjoy this sweet treat every Saturday and Sunday throughout the month of December. Don’t miss the Christmas Carol that
everyone loves, little Santas spread freshness by singing together in the Christmas Carol activity. Plus, Christmas Live Music, the festival of joy is back! Celebrate Christmas in a luxurious and classy atmosphere, enjoying the music that will bring us joy. Also, there will be Christmas Troop, Santa Claus is coming to town! The Santa troop will spread happiness throughout Central Phuket. Lastly, Cake Workshop, workshop activity with Chef Sebastien’s IRON CHEF Thailand teaching how to make Christmas Vanilla Cake. A special activity for the Christmas season. Moreover, Central Phuket provides special promotion exclusively for international tourists throughout December 23 – January 24 including:

1) Get Free! Tourist welcome discount package valued up to THB 10,000.
2) Receive THB 100 Gift voucher when spending up to THB 2,500 per receipt.
3) Get to buy ‘Happy Holiday Collections’ special price: Pokémon 2-in-1 pillow blanket, tumbler, travel bag set, and keychain. Visit redemption counter for the price.
4) Exclusive for Grab Users get discount code up to 25% off* when traveling to participating Central Shopping Centers.
5) Receive famous Elephant Pants when spending over THB 5,000 in shopping center.
6) Get Free! H&M THB 100 gift voucher when booking any accommodations in Phuket with Agoda. Terms and conditions apply.

Central Phuket is a home of global luxury brands such as Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, Ermenegildo Zegna, Gucci, Hermès, Louis Vuitton, and Saint Laurent. Exclusive for this season, Louis Vuitton launches a pop-up store located at Central Phuket. The design is inspired by the story of Damier or Checkerboard, the brand’s signature pattern. This classic pattern was created by Louis
Vuitton and his son Georges Vuitton in 1888 and has always been part of the design of Maison’s iconic items and concepts. Find clothes, shoes, bags, and accessories for men at the Pop-up Store from Louis Vuitton at Central Phuket, 1st floor, from today until 31 March 2024. And with over 500 renowned fashion brands and lifestyle shops ranging from local to international
well-known brands covering all categories, international shoppers will be able to find what they are looking for in Central Phuket.
Central Phuket is located in the heart of one of the world’s most famous beach cities, Phuket and await to welcome both locals and international visitors this holiday. Also, don’t miss one of the most joyful New Year Count Down events in Phuket city at Central Phuket Shopping Center on December 31, 2023.

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Saudi Fund for Development Provides $100 Million Development Loan for the Rogun Hydropower Project

The Saudi Fund for Development (SFD) Chief Executive Officer, H.E. Sultan Al-Marshad, signed a new development loan agreement with the Minister of Finance of the Republic of Tajikistan, H.E. Kahhorzoda Fayziddin Sattor, through which SFD is contributing $100 million USD to fund the Rogun Hydropower Project, a landmark initiative that will enhance energy,
food, and water security, and foster sustainable development in the country. The signing was attended by the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the Republic of Tajikistan, H.E. Waleed Al-Reshiadan, and the Ambassador of Tajikistan to Saudi Arabia, H.E. Akram Karimi, alongside other officials from both sides. SFD’s development loan will help contribute towards a more sustainable and equitable food and water future for Tajikistan, while driving the country’s energy transition and climate resilience. The project aims to contribute to the national energy security and will help advance sustainable
development in the Republic of Tajikistan, by providing the renewable electricity supply to meet local demand and expand electricity production domestically and regionally, producing 3600 MW of energy. The loan agreement will also finance the construction of a 335-meter-tall dam, which will enhance irrigation capabilities and bolster agricultural activities across the country. Additionally, the project will improve flood protection through the construction of four hydraulic
tunnels for diversion and drainage. It will also provide clean and drinkable water to people through desalination, and help advance socio-economic development, by creating both direct and indirect jobs.
Importantly, this project also supports the realization of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); specifically, SDG 2, Zero Hunger, SDG 6, Clean Water and Sanitation, and SDG 7, Affordable and Clean Energy.
On this occasion, the CEO of SFD, H.E. Sultan Al-Marshad, said: “Today’s signing marks a major milestone in our shared journey towards a more sustainable future. With this landmark development loan, SFD is not just supporting Tajikistan’s energy future, but also its sustainable development and the well-being of its people. The Rogun Hydropower Project is a beacon of
hope for a bright future that is powered by clean, renewable energy. It will propel Tajikistan towards environmental stewardship and prosperity.”

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