The Humanitarian Crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh: Impact and Concerns

In recent news, the ongoing conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh region has resulted in a severe humanitarian crisis. The Lachin Corridor, the only route connecting ethnic Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh with the Republic of Armenia, has been blocked by Azerbaijani authorities for nearly nine months. This blockade has led to shortages of essential supplies such as food, medication, hygiene products, and fuel in the breakaway region. The impact of this crisis is devastating, as people are fainting while queuing up for bread and one in three deaths in Nagorno-Karabakh is due to malnutrition.

The situation has worsened since December when Azerbaijan blocked the road to Nagorno-Karabakh’s regional capital Stepanakert, known as Khandendi in Azerbaijan. This blockade has resulted in empty shops, long queues for minimal food rations, and a lack of basic necessities like fuel and medication. Pregnant women are unable to access hospitals due to the shortage of petrol, leading to tragic consequences like the loss of a child. With winter approaching, the situation is expected to deteriorate further, putting the lives of vulnerable individuals at risk.

This crisis has a significant impact on the daily lives and well-being of the people in Nagorno-Karabakh. Families are separated as they cannot reach their loved ones on the other side of the corridor. The lack of access to essential supplies and healthcare services has led to physical and mental health deterioration. Moreover, the fear and despair among the population are growing, as many feel that their homes and countries will be taken by Azerbaijan.

The international community’s response to the crisis has been limited. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is the only humanitarian organization with access to Nagorno-Karabakh. However, even the ICRC cannot guarantee safe passage, as seen in the case of Vagif Khachatryan, a 68-year-old man who was taken away with a Red Cross employee and has not been found since. This incident has created fear among men who fear they may face a similar fate if they try to cross the checkpoint.

There is a lack of trust in the international community’s commitment to resolving the crisis. Protesters in Yerevan have blocked the entrance to the UN office, demanding the reopening of the Lachin Corridor. Despite legally binding orders from the International Court of Justice, Azerbaijan has denied the existence of a humanitarian crisis and argues for full control of the territory.

The impact of this crisis goes beyond the immediate humanitarian concerns. It raises questions about human rights violations in Azerbaijan and the treatment of ethnic Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh. The severing of the last link with the Republic of Armenia could lead to annihilation for the Karabakh Armenians, as there are concerns about the protection of their rights and well-being under Azerbaijani control.

This crisis calls for urgent international attention and support. The reopening of the Lachin Corridor and the restoration of free movement are essential to address the immediate humanitarian needs of the population in Nagorno-Karabakh. Furthermore, long-term solutions must be sought to ensure the protection and well-being of the ethnic Armenians in the region. Diplomatic efforts, humanitarian aid, and monitoring mechanisms are necessary to address the ongoing crisis and prevent further suffering and loss of life.