“1100 people cannot return home, 120,000 are under blockade”: Lachin corridor still closed
Lachin corridor still closed
The Lachin corridor, the only road connecting Nagorno-Karabakh with Armenia, has been closed for the second day, rendering 1,100 people, including 270 children, unable to return to their homes. The Armenian population of NK, 120,000 people, is facing a humanitarian crisis, with food and medicine sufficient for only a few days.
According to Armenia, this is not spontaneous, but “an organized event, the purpose of which is the expulsion of Armenians.” It is officially reported that negotiations are underway between Russian peacekeepers, Azerbaijan, and the leadership of the unrecognized NKR.
NK Ombudsman Gegham Stepanyan wrote on Twitter that “Azerbaijan cut off the gas supply to the whole of Artsakh (the Armenia-Artsakh gas pipeline passes through the territory under the control of Azerbaijan).”
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“Stop genocide in Artsakh”: protest
A rally formed in Freedom Square in Yerevan. The participants moved from there to the UN office and the embassies of Italy, France, and the USA. They called on the international community to “refrain from double standards and condemn the inhumane behavior of Azerbaijan.”
“This provocation by the Azerbaijani government on a false environmental pretext is another step in creating unbearable living conditions, putting pressure on the Artsakh Armenians and forcing them to leave their homeland,” a letter given to the diplomatic missions reads.
“Baku intends to starve them out” – press conference in Yerevan
“For more than 24 hours the supply of food products, fuel supplies, medicines, etc. has been stopped throughout Artsakh. The leadership of the NK reports that the available reserves will last only a few days,” Gegham Stepanyan said at a press conference in Yerevan on the morning of December 12.
He himself could not return home, as the road was blocked by Azerbaijanis presenting themselves as environmentalists.
The Ombudsman made a special appeal to the international community with a call not to ignore the 120,000 people effectively under blockade in NK.
“We must also emphasize the fact that Artsakh does not have air communication with any country in the world,” he said.
According to Stepanyan, there is reliable information that among the protesters who blocked the road there are representatives of the special services of Azerbaijan.
Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs of NK David Babayan was also unable to return home after a visit to France. He believes that it depends on the reaction of the international community whether the blockade of the corridor will be followed by large-scale military action:
“Impunity encourages aggression. […] Azerbaijan is getting bolder and resorting to such steps, actually dooming people to starvation in the 21st century.”
Babayan called on international bodies to take steps to “restrain the policy of genocide by Azerbaijan.” He recalled the proposals of the leadership of the NK:
- increase the number of Russian peacekeepers,
- give the contingent of peacekeepers an international mandate.
Those stuck on the road can contact the operational headquarters
To solve the problems caused by the closure of the road, an operational headquarters has been created in Armenia located in the building of the Syunik regional administration.
“Passengers and drivers left on the road, in case of urgent matters, can call the 24-hour hotline at the regional headquarters at 093 25 08 08,” Armenian Ambassador-at-Large Edmon Marukyan said.
According to NK State Minister Ruben Vardanyan, a similar 24-hour operational headquarters operates in NK as well.
“Call a meeting of the UN Security Council”
An extraordinary session was held in the NK Parliament today where deputies adopted a statement in which they announced their expectations from Armenia, Russia and international bodies:
- “The Armenian authorities are obliged to take substantive and effective steps to restore uninterrupted land communication between Artsakh and Armenia and protect the rights of the citizens of the Republic of Artsakh.
- We expect the Russian Federation to take immediate measures to curb the expansionist aspirations of Azerbaijan.
- We call on international structures and UN member states to condemn the genocidal policy of Azerbaijan, and to convene an urgent meeting of the UN Security Council in order to prevent it.”
“These provocative actions organized directly by Baku are aimed at expelling Armenians from Artsakh and absorbing it into Azerbaijan,” the deputies maintain.
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“Their lives are in danger”
NK doctors report that due to closure of the corridor, it was not possible to transport five patients in critical condition to hospitals in Armenia.
“Necessary studies and their further treatment should be continued in Yerevan. As a result of the road closure, the transport of patients became impossible. Their lives are in danger,” director of the local hospital, Mher Musaelyan, said.
Doctors also report that at the moment there is no shortage of medicines and funds for emergency medical care, but “it is alarming that the supply of medicines has stopped.”
The reaction of the Armenian Foreign Ministry
The Armenian Foreign Ministry issued a statement on recent events, saying that “[it] directly contradicts paragraph 6 of the tripartite statement of November 9, 2020, according to which
- The Lachin corridor remains under the control of the peacekeeping contingent of the Russian Federation,
- The Republic of Azerbaijan guarantees the safety of movement of citizens, vehicles and goods along the Lachin corridor in both directions.”
The Armenian Foreign Ministry believes that Azerbaijan is violating its international obligation:
“It not only testifies to its unwillingness to address issues of the rights and security of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh and to conduct a dialogue with Stepanakert for this purpose, but also again testifies to the continuation of official Baku’s policy of ethnic cleansing in Nagorno-Karabakh.”
The statement says that Azerbaijan’s actions could lead to a large-scale humanitarian catastrophe. In addition, the Foreign Ministry believes that “this provocation was organized by the Azerbaijani state.”
It is also reported that consultations with international partners will soon begin to activate mechanisms to ensure the rights and security of the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Lachin corridor still closed