Amidst the escalating conflict in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, more than 100,000 people have been forced to flee their homes, according to reports from Armenia. The displacement of such a significant number of individuals represents the near-complete evacuation of the ethnic Armenian enclave since Azerbaijan seized control of the area last week.
Azerbaijan has expressed its desire to reintegrate Nagorno-Karabakh and treat its inhabitants as equals. However, an Armenian spokesman has dismissed these claims as mere falsehoods, casting doubt on Azerbaijan’s intentions.
Nagorno-Karabakh, which has historically been recognized as part of Azerbaijan, has been under the rule of ethnic Armenians for the past three decades. The region has enjoyed support from both Armenia and Russia. With the entry of Azerbaijan’s army, the conflict has led to the deaths of at least 200 ethnic Armenians and dozens of Azerbaijani soldiers.
As part of a ceasefire agreement, separatists in Nagorno-Karabakh have agreed to surrender their weapons. This move paves the way for an uncertain future, with the leader of the self-declared Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh stating that the region will cease to exist in the new year.
The influx of refugees into Armenia has been significant, with an estimated 100,417 people seeking shelter in the country in just one week. The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) has also acknowledged the mass displacement, noting that many of those fleeing “are hungry, exhausted and need immediate assistance”.
A former separatist official from Nagorno-Karabakh, Artak Beglaryan, has provided insights into the ongoing exodus. He revealed that the remaining residents of the region, numbering at most a few hundred, primarily consist of officials, emergency services employees, volunteers, and individuals with special needs. The majority of the population has now left Nagorno-Karabakh.
Tragically, the effects of the conflict extend beyond the direct clashes. On Monday, a massive explosion occurred at a fuel depot in Nagorno-Karabakh, resulting in the loss of at least 170 lives. The cause of the explosion, which took place near the region’s main city of Khankendi, remains unknown.
Acknowledging the urgent need for humanitarian assessment, the UN has announced that it will send a mission to Nagorno-Karabakh over the weekend. This visit aims to evaluate the severity of the humanitarian situation on the ground. Despite concerns about the timing of the visit, Armenian ambassador-at-large, Edmon Marukyan, stressed the importance of UN officials witnessing the hardships endured by ethnic Armenians. He maintained that the people of Nagorno-Karabakh were forcibly uprooted from their ancestral homeland, making it essential for the international community to bear witness to their plight.
As the conflict rages on, it remains to be seen how the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh will evolve. The focus now must be on providing immediate assistance to the displaced individuals and finding a peaceful resolution to end the suffering endured by the people of the region.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What is the Nagorno-Karabakh region?
Nagorno-Karabakh is a mountainous region in the South Caucasus, internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but predominantly inhabited by ethnic Armenians.
How many refugees have fled the Nagorno-Karabakh region?
According to reports from Armenia and the UN refugee agency (UNHCR), over 100,000 people have been displaced and forced to flee their homes due to the conflict.
What caused the explosion in Nagorno-Karabakh?
On Monday, a massive explosion occurred at a fuel depot near the city of Khankendi, resulting in the loss of at least 170 lives. The cause of the explosion is still under investigation.
What is the international response to the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh?
The UN has announced the deployment of a mission to Nagorno-Karabakh to assess the humanitarian situation, despite concerns about the timing of the visit. The international community is closely monitoring the conflict and urging for a peaceful resolution.
What are the immediate priorities in addressing the crisis?
The main focus is on providing immediate assistance to the displaced individuals and ensuring their safety and well-being. Efforts to find a peaceful resolution and end the suffering of the people in the region are also crucial.