UN Secretary General Guterres

Armenia, International Leaders Urge End to Karabakh Blockade


YEREVAN (Combined Sources) — A diplomatic representative in Armenia has stressed the need for international calls and decisions on restoring free and safe access to Nagorno-Karabakh to be acted upon amid a deteriorating humanitarian situation in the Armenian-populated region surrounded by Azerbaijan.

Problems with shortages of foodstuffs, medicines and other essential goods have remained acute in Nagorno-Karabakh for weeks as Azerbaijan continues to keep a convoy of Armenian trucks with humanitarian supplies stranded at the entrance to the Lachin corridor, the only road connecting Armenia with the region on which Azerbaijan set up a checkpoint in April and tightened the effective blockade several weeks later.

The United States, the European Union and Russia have repeatedly called for an immediate end to the blockade of the corridor that Yerevan and Stepanakert insist must remain only under the control of Russian peacekeepers in accordance with the terms of a Moscow-brokered trilateral ceasefire agreement that put an end to a deadly six-week Armenian-Azerbaijani war in Nagorno-Karabakh in 2020.

Baku has dismissed such appeals, saying that the Karabakh Armenians should only be supplied with food and other basic items from Azerbaijan.

A number of international organizations have also issued appeals urging the reopening of the Lachin Corridor. Among them was the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).

In a tweet on Monday, a spokesperson for Armenia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs referred to a PACE resolution adopted on June 22 that was based on the report of one of its members, Paul Gavan.

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“Now clear steps are needed to implement all international calls and decisions,” Ani Badalian wrote, without elaborating. She cited Gavan, an Irish politician, as saying that “what we are witnessing now is a deliberate attempt to ethnically cleanse the Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh.”

Edmon Marukyan, Armenia’s ambassador-at-large, also recently wrote on Twitter that people in Nagorno-Karabakh faint on a daily basis due to malnutrition, publishing a photograph of one such reported incident.

“The leadership of Azerbaijan bears direct responsibility for this and the international community is sharing this responsibility by doing nothing to save people’s lives,” Marukyan contended.

A group of UN experts on August 7 expressed alarm over the ongoing blockade of the Lachin corridor by Azerbaijan, which has led to a dire humanitarian crisis in the region of Nagorno-Karabakh.

“The blockade of the Lachin Corridor is a humanitarian emergency that has created severe shortages of essential food staples including sunflower oil, fish, chicken, dairy products, cereal, sugar and baby formula,” the experts said.

They warned that the region was rapidly depleting its medical reserves, and hospitals were struggling to provide care as the operation of ambulances has been hampered due to declining fuel supplies.

The experts urged authorities in Azerbaijan to immediately restore the free and secure movement of persons, vehicles, and cargo moving along the Lachin corridor in both directions, in accordance with the ceasefire agreement of November 2020.

They also called on Russian peacekeeping forces deployed in the region, to protect the corridor under the terms of the ceasefire agreement.

“By lifting the blockade, the authorities can alleviate the suffering of thousands of people in Nagorno-Karabakh and allow for the unimpeded flow of humanitarian assistance to the civilian population,” the experts said. “It is essential to ensure the safety, dignity, and well-being of all individuals during this critical time,” they said.

“We urge the Government of Azerbaijan to uphold its international obligations to respect and protect human rights, including the right to food, health, education and life. We also emphasize the importance of cooperation and dialogue among all parties involved to find a peaceful and sustainable resolution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict,” the experts said.

French Ambassador to Armenia Olivier Decottignies similarly has called for reopening of the Lachin corridor.

“France calls for the restoration of the free movement of goods, people and goods, along the Lachin corridor, in both directions, and of a continuous supply of gas and electricity to the population,” Decottignies said in a post on X, as Twitter is now known.

In addition, UN Secretary-General António Guterres, according to his spokesperson, Farhan Haq, is deeply concerned by the reports of continued challenges related to the freedom of movement along the Lachin Corridor.

According to Haq, the UN chief recalls his previous statement on the need for the Parties to implement the Orders of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), including the Orders issued on February 22, 2023 and reaffirmed on July 6, 2023, related to measures to ensure unimpeded movement of persons, vehicles and cargo along the Lachin Corridor in both directions.

He added that Guterres is particularly concerned about reports of the deteriorating humanitarian situation on the ground and calls for urgent steps to facilitate access for the delivery of humanitarian assistance to people in need.

(Stories from news.am, Azatutyun and Public Radio of Armenia were used in compiling this report.)

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