Ration coupons distributed to residents of Karabakh, January 19, 2023.

Karabakh to Widen Food Rationing as Blockade Continues

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STEPANAKERT (Azatutyun) — Authorities in Nagorno-Karabakh announced on Monday, February 13, plans to ration more staple food items two months after Azerbaijan blocked Karabakh’s land link with Armenia and the outside world.

The authorities handed out first ration coupons to Karabakh’s population last month to try to alleviate increasingly serious shortages of food caused by the blockade. Every local resident has since been able to buy one liter of sunflower oil and one kilogram of rice, macaroni, buckwheat and sugar a month.

Armen Mangasaryan, Karabakh’s social affairs minister, said that “it is planned to expand from February 21 the list of essential goods provided with coupons” when he addressed a meeting of a Karabakh task force dealing with consequences of the blockade.

“Currently, organizational and technical works are being carried out in that direction,” read an official statement on the meeting. It did not specify the additional foodstuffs that are due to be rationed.

Ruben Vardanyan, the Karabakh premier who chaired the meeting in Stepanakert, was quoted by the statement as saying, “Although the challenges are profound, the society is responding to them with dignity.”

The two-month blockade, compounded by disruptions by Azerbaijan in electricity and natural gas supplies from Armenia, has also halted much of economic activity in Karabakh. More than 5,000 of the territory’s estimated 120,000 residents have lost their jobs as a result, according to the Karabakh government.

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The government decided earlier this month to pay each of them 68,000 drams ($170) in compensation. In addition, unemployed parents of children are to receive 40,000 drams per child.

The United States, the European Union and Russia have repeatedly called on Azerbaijan to reopen the Lachin corridor blocked by Azerbaijani government-backed protesters on December 12. Baku has ignored these appeals, continuing to defend the protesters demanding an end to “illegal” copper mining. in Karabakh.

Armenia has condemned the blockade as a gross violation of the Russian-brokered ceasefire agreement that stopped the 2020 Armenian-Azerbaijani war.

 

 

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