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Armenia warns the risk of famine is “tangible” in Nagorno-Karabakh

Armenia’s Foreign Ministry has warned the risk of famine is “tangible” in Nagorno-Karabakh since the closure of the Lachin Corridor, thereby calling for an international fact finding mission to the breakaway region.

Gabriel Gavin, a journalist specialised in the region, notes that Azerbaijan has repeatedly rejected previous calls for foreign intervention, arguing that movement on the road isn’t restricted and accusing the Armenians of orchestrating a humanitarian crisis.

The episode follows as supplies were running run low due to the continuation of the Nagorno-Karabakh blockade. The closure of the Lachin Corridor left the region struggling to secure enough food, medicine and fuel.

In December, Artak Beglaryan, an advisor to the State Minister of the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, told Eurasianet: “There is no access for any cars, including those carrying food and healthcare supplies…We don’t have any helicopters and the Azerbaijani side threatens to shoot down any flying object, so resupplying by air is not an option either. Every day, the humanitarian catastrophe is growing deeper.”

Writing for CNN, Lara Setrakian, a journalist and the president of the Applied Policy Research Institute based in Yerevan, Armenia, warned:

“Outsourcing peacebuilding to Russia was a bad idea. Now, in the shadow of the Ukraine war, that policy is enabling another humanitarian catastrophe and compromising Western interests in the region.

With Russia weakened in Ukraine, there is no effective arbiter between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan, using its significant oil and gas wealth, has been pushing for maximum advantage on the ground. At the moment, protesters with the support of the Azeri government, experts say, are blocking the Lachin Corridor, the main road linking about 120,000 ethnic Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh to the outside world. Azeri political analysts say that protests are illegal in Azerbaijan unless they have government approval.

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Incoming supplies have been severely limited since December 12, 2022, when the blockade began. Grocery stores are rationing food, with little by way of fresh fruits or vegetables, and there is a dire shortage of medical supplies, residents said in late December. Azerbaijan has said the blockade is in response to mining activities in Armenian-held areas. But rather than taking the issue to international mediation it has decided to block incoming transit until its conditions are met – a violation of international and humanitarian law.”



Picture and Copyright: Checkpoint in the Lachin corridor in 2017. Copyright: Benoît Prieur, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons