More than 120,000 people from Nagorno-Karabakh will leave for Armenia for fear of ethnic cleansing

A damaged residential building and cars after the launch of a military operation by the Azerbaijani armed forces in the city of Stepanakert, in Nagorno-Karabakh, a region inhabited by ethnic Armenians. September 19, 2023 (Reuters) (SIRANUSH SARGSYAN/PAN PHOTO/)

The 120,000 ethnic Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh will leave for Armenia because they do not want to live as part of Azerbaijan and fear ethnic cleansing, he declared on Sunday Reuters the leadership of the separatist region.

The Armenian Prime Minister also stated that Karabakh Armenians were likely to leave the region and that Armenia was willing to welcome themfollowing the defeat suffered last week at the hands of Azerbaijan in a conflict that dates back to the fall of the Soviet Union.

Karabakh Armenians forced to declare ceasefire on September 20 after a 24-hour lightning military operation by the Azerbaijani armymuch more numerous.

Azerbaijan claims that it will guarantee its rights and integrate the region, but Armenians say they fear repression.

“Our people do not want to live as part of Azerbaijan. 99.9% prefer to abandon our historic lands“, he declared to Reuters David Babayan, advisor to Samvel Shahramanyan, president of the self-proclaimed Republic of Artsakh.

“The fate of our poor people will go down in history as a disgrace and shame for the Armenian people and for the entire civilized world,” Babayan said. “Those responsible for our destiny will one day have to answer before God for their sins.”

Karabakh Armenian leaders said in a statement that all those who were left homeless by the Azerbaijani military operation and want to leave would be escorted to Armenia by Russian peacekeepers.

Babayan said it was unclear when the population would move through the Lachin corridor, which links the territory with Armenia, where the prime minister Nikol Pashinyan He has received calls for his resignation for failing to save Karabakh.

Children wait in a shelter during a shelling in Stepanakert, Nagorno-Karabakh, Azerbaijan, on Sept. 20, 2023. (AP Photo/Siranush Sargsyan)
Children wait in a shelter during a shelling in Stepanakert, Nagorno-Karabakh, Azerbaijan, on Sept. 20, 2023. (AP Photo/Siranush Sargsyan) (Siranush Sargsyan/)

In a speech to the nation, Pashinyan said some humanitarian aid had arrived, but Karabakh Armenians continued to face “the danger of ethnic cleansing.” He added: “If real living conditions for Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians in their homes and effective protection mechanisms against ethnic cleansing are not created, then the likelihood that Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians will see expulsion from their homeland increases. as the only way out.”

Armenia “will lovingly welcome our brothers and sisters from Nagorno-Karabakh,” declared Pashinyanaccording to the Russian news agency TASS.

A Mass exodus could upset the delicate balance of power in the South Caucasus region, a mosaic of ethnicities crossed by oil and gas pipelines in which Russia, the United States, Turkey and Iran struggle to influence.

Azeri victory

Last week’s Azerbaijani victory appears to put a decisive end to one of the “frozen conflicts” arising from the dissolution of the Soviet Union. President Ilham Aliyev declared that his iron fist had relegated the idea of ​​​​an independent Karabakh to history of Armenian ethnicity and that the region would become a “paradise” as part of Azerbaijan.

Armenia claims that More than 200 people were killed and 400 injured in the Azerbaijani military operation. The fate of the ethnic Armenian population has raised concern in Moscow, Washington and Brussels.

Nagorno Karabakh, known as Artsakh to Armenians, is located in an area that for centuries has been under the rule of Persians, Turks, Russians, Ottomans and Soviets. It was claimed by both Azerbaijan and Armenia after the fall of the Russian Empire in 1917. In Soviet times it was designated an autonomous region within Azerbaijan.

  File image of Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev (DPA)
File image of the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev (DPA) (-/Kremlin/Dpa/)

With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Armenians threw off nominal Azeri control and captured neighboring territory in what is now known as the First Karabakh War. Between 1988 and 1994, some 30,000 people died and more than a million were displaced, mostly Azeris.

ANDIn 2020, after decades of skirmishes, Azerbaijan, with the support of Turkey, won the 44-day Second Karabakh War, reconquering territory in Karabakh and its surroundings. That war ended with a Russian-brokered peace deal, which Armenians accuse Moscow of failing to guarantee.

Armenian authorities in the region declared late Saturday that some 150 tons of humanitarian cargo from Russia and another 65 tons of flour sent by the International Committee of the Red Cross had arrived in the area. “Given the magnitude of the humanitarian needs, we are increasing our presence there with personnel specialized in health, forensic medicine, protection and weapons contamination,” the ICRC said in a statement.

Russia, which has 2,000 peacekeepers in the region, stated that, in accordance with the terms of the ceasefire, as of Saturday it had received six armored vehicles, more than 800 small arms, anti-tank weapons and man-portable defense systems. anti-aircraft gun, as well as 22,000 rounds of ammunition.

Pashinyan, who has publicly accused Russia of not supporting Armenia, declared on Friday that space had been prepared in Armenia for 40,000 people from Karabakh. Muslim-majority Azerbaijan has said Armenians, who are Christians, can leave if they wish.

Around 20 ambulances will evacuate some of the wounded from Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia, he told Reuters a humanitarian source who spoke on condition of anonymity.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who has held urgent talks with Armenia and Azerbaijan, declared on social media: “The United States will continue to firmly support Armenia and its sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

With information from Reuters