By Susan Badalian and Narine Ghalechian
STEPANAKERT (Azatutyun) — Residents of Nagorno-Karabakh struggled with worsening shortages of food and medicine on Monday, June 19, four days after Azerbaijan completely blocked relief supplies to the Armenian-populated region.
Many essential items had already been in short supply since Baku blocked last December commercial traffic through the sole road connecting Karabakh to Armenia. Only vehicles escorted by the Russian peacekeeping forces and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) have been able to pass through the Lachin corridor for the last seven months.
The movement of these humanitarian convoys was halted on Thursday, June 15, following a shootout near an Azerbaijani checkpoint illegally set up in the corridor in late April.
Armenia’s National Security Service (NSS) said that its border guards stopped a group of Azerbaijani servicemen manning the checkpoint from advancing into Armenian territory and placing an Azerbaijani flag there. The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry insisted that they did not cross into Armenia while trying to hoist the flag on a bridge located right next to the checkpoint.
Health authorities in Stepanakert said on Monday that local hospitals have suspended non-urgent surgeries due to a resulting shortage of drugs and other medical supplies. According to them, a total of 175 critically ill Karabakh patients and their family members are now awaiting evacuation to hospitals in Armenia.