The Armenian exodus continues: more than 13,000 refugees left Nagorno-Karabakh due to Azerbaijan’s military offensive

Armenians displaced from Nagorno-Karabakh arrive at a registration center of the Armenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, near the border town of Kornidzor (EFE) (NAREK ALEKSANYAN/)

At least 13,000 people from Nagorno Karabakh fled to ArmeniaThe Yerevan authorities reported this Tuesday, almost a week after Azerbaijan’s victorious lightning offensive in this separatist territory in the Caucasus.

In the midst of the exodus of the Armenian population from this territory internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, the explosion of a fuel tank on Monday left at least 20 dead and 280 injured, Armenian separatist authorities reported this Tuesday.

“Dozens of patients remain in critical condition,” the separatist authorities, who asked for outside help to manage this crisis, indicated in a statement. According to the latest report, 20 people died and there are still 13 victims who have not been identified and who must undergo analysis by forensic experts.

On the only land route to leave this territory, the Lachín corridor, There are hundreds of vehicles waiting to cross into Armenia, after Yerevan authorities denounced plans for “ethnic cleansing.”

The civilians began the exodus, despite the fact that the president of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, reiterated on Monday the promise that he will “guarantee” the rights of the Armenians who remain in this enclave.

Refugees arrive in Kornidzor (Reuters)
Refugees arrive in Kornidzor (Reuters) (IRAKLI GEDENIDZE/)

Aliyev spoke during a meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is a key player in this Caucasus region, populated mostly by Armenians, but which was integrated into Azerbaijan during Soviet times.

Armenia and Azerbaijan, which are two former Soviet republics, have fought two wars in the last three decades over Nagorno-Karabakh, between 1988 and 1994 and in 2020. Last week’s operation ended with 200 deadaccording to Armenian separatists.

The European Union plans to receive representatives from Armenia and Azerbaijan in Brussels this Tuesday, in a meeting in which emissaries from Germany and France will also participate.

The Armenian Prime Minister, Nikol Pashinyan, and the president of Azerbaijan will meet on October 5 in Granada, in the south of Spain, in a meeting that was already scheduled and that has not been canceled.

The head of the German government, Olaf Scholz, the president of France, Emmanuel Macron, and the president of the European Council will participate in this meeting.

The exodus continues

In Nagorno Karabakh the exodus of the Armenian population from this enclave continues and there is huge traffic jams on the only route that connects the city considered the capital of this territory, Stepanakert, with Armenia.

Azerbaijan vowed to allow rebels who laid down their arms to flee to Armenia.

Long lines at the border (Reuters)
Long lines at the border (Reuters) (IRAKLI GEDENIDZE/)

This territory had 120,000 inhabitants before the lightning offensive launched by Azerbaijan on September 19, which occurred after months of blocking supplies in this enclave.

At the Goris theater in Armenia, There is a constant flow of vehicles arriving loaded. There are also civilians who from there embark on the route to Yerevan and other large Armenian cities.

This border town began receiving refugees on Sunday. Last week, the Armenian prime minister announced that his country, of 2.9 million inhabitants, was preparing to receive 40,000 refugees.

Russia, which had a strong presence in the region and in the last conflict mobilized a peacekeeping force that left a contingent in Nagorno-Karabakh, rejected on Monday Armenia’s criticism of having abandoned them.

(With information from AFP)