The exodus to Armenia continues from Nagorno-Karabakh. According to official figures presented this Thursday morning, the number of refugees who have arrived from this Armenian-populated enclave in the center of Azerbaijan is 65,000.
That corresponds to more than half the official population of the breakaway region, where Azerbaijan launched a lightning offensive last week, according to Armenian authorities. “The state provides suitable housing to everyone who does not have a predetermined place of residence,” the Armenian government said.
But the Armenian government has so far been able to accommodate only 2,850 people, which indicates a humanitarian crisis. “Armenia does not have the resources, and it will not be able to do this without help from abroad,” said political scientist Boris Navasardyan. According to him, this situation “will have serious consequences on the political scene” against the backdrop of “general discontent.” The capital Yerevan has been rocked in recent days by a series of demonstrations against the prime minister, accused of passivity towards Azerbaijan.
Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, opened the Lachin corridor on Sunday. This is the only road connecting the enclave with Armenia. This decision was made four days after the surrender of the separatists and the ceasefire. This forced thousands of civilians to flee when faced with the arrival of Azerbaijani troops.
Officially, Nagorno-Karabakh, a mountainous enclave that broke away from Baku with Yerevan’s support during the collapse of the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) in the early 1990s, has about 120,000 residents, mostly Armenians. The entire population had to leave the area in the coming days due to the Azerbaijani offensive.
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Accusations of “ethnic cleansing”
Therefore, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan accuses his neighbor of carrying out “ethnic cleansing.” “The exodus of Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh continues. Our analysis shows that in the coming days there will be no more Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh. This is an act of ethnic cleansing that we have warned the international community against. ” He adds that “if convictions (from the international community) If adequate political and legal decisions do not follow, then these condemnations will become acts of agreement with what is happening.”
The Nagorno-Karabakh authorities had already foreseen such a situation. This Thursday they announced the dissolution of the separatist republic and its institutions from January 1, 2024. The decree of leader Samvel Chakhramanyan establishes that, as a result, the “Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (Artsakh) ceases to exist.
In his decree dissolving the self-proclaimed republic, the separatist leader emphasizes that once the conditions for returning the region to Azerbaijani control are known, residents and refugees will be able to “individually decide to stay or return to Nagorno-Karabakh.” Armenia, which has maintained the territory for decades, did not intervene militarily this time, paving the way for the region’s reintegration into Azerbaijan.
The Armenian government in any case accuses Azerbaijan of carrying out “illegal arrests” at the border among columns of fleeing civilians. This position appeared after the detention of the former separatist leader Ruben Vardanyan.
Adding to the enclave’s misery, more than 100 people are still missing after an explosion at a fuel depot that residents stormed on Monday evening. The tragedy left at least 68 people dead and 290 injured.