A food store in Stepanakert, December 20, 2022

Karabakh to Ration Food Due to Shortages

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By Artak Khulian

STEPANAKERT (Azatutyun) — Almost one month after Azerbaijan blocked the sole road connecting Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia, the authorities in Stepanakert decided on Monday, January 9, to limit the sale of some basic foodstuffs and other items that are increasingly in short supply.

Karabakh food stores largely ran out of stock already in December. Most of them now sell only locally produced dairy, bread and alcohol.

The authorities last week tapped their strategic reserves to start supplying retailers with imported staples such as sunflower oil, sugar, rice and salt. There have since been complaints by Stepanakert residents that not all shops are receiving such emergency supplies and that some are hoarding them.

The Karabakh government responded by announcing the mandatory rationing of products supplied by it. Officials said the new distribution system will take effect later this week through ration coupons that will be distributed to all Karabakh residents.

“The idea is to evenly distribute to the population the small amounts of food from the state reserves,” said Narine Aghabalyan, a government spokeswoman.

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“The ration coupons could be used for buying only essential products,” Aghabalyan said. She did not specify the full list of those items.

The official also said: “We will continue to deal with the issue of supplying our population with food. I also want to stress that in our meetings with people we can see just how determined and prepared they are to endure the food shortages for asserting their right to live freely in their homeland.”

The authorities similarly restricted the sale of fuel — and gasoline in particular — on December 14, two days after a large group of Azerbaijanis blocked the Lachin Corridor. The latter are demanding that the Azerbaijani government be allowed to inspect “illegal” ore mines in Karabakh.

Baku has backed their demands, rejected by the Armenian side, and dismissed the international community’s calls for the immediate reopening of the corridor.

The Karabakh premier, Ruben Vardanyan, said last week that the Armenian-populated region is bracing itself for a prolonged blockade and will not bow to the Azerbaijani pressure.

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