Nagorno-Karabakh: more than 28,000 refugees arrived in Armenia

Nagorno-Karabakh is emptying of its inhabitants

Nagorno-Karabakh: more than 28,000 refugees arrived in Armenia

Nagorno-Karabakh is emptying of its inhabitants. Tuesday, September 26, tens of thousands of men, women and children continued to leave this enclave populated by Armenians, under the victorious gaze of Azerbaijani soldiers. According to Armenian authorities, some 28,120 refugees have already arrived in Armenia.

On the only road leading to Armenia, an endless stream of vehicles carrying families, their belongings piled on the roofs, rushed Tuesday to the last Azerbaijani checkpoint before Armenian territory, via the Lachin corridor. On Sunday, after the lightning offensive won by Azerbaijani troops against those of Nagorno-Karabakh – the death toll of which was 200, according to the separatists – Baku reopened this border post which cut off the Armenian enclave from the rest of the world, causing the exodus.

Since Sunday evening, the influx of refugees into Armenia has overwhelmed the border town of Goris, populated by around twenty thousand inhabitants, the first stop for most of the refugees and which has become their crossroads. Last week, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian announced that his country of 2.9 million people was preparing to welcome 40,000 refugees.

The head of American diplomacy, Antony Blinken, called on Azerbaijan to respect its commitments to protect civilians in the province and to allow access for humanitarian aid. On Monday, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev reaffirmed the promise that the rights of Armenians in the enclave would be “guaranteed”.

“The Secretary of State spoke again with President [Ilham] Aliyev today and emphasized the urgency of ending hostilities, ensuring the unconditional protection and freedom of movement of civilians, and ensure unhindered humanitarian access to Nagorno-Karabakh,” State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said.

“Under the complicit eye of Russia”

France, for its part, called for “international diplomatic action” in the face of “Russia’s abandonment of Armenia.” Paris estimated that the “massive” exodus of Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh is taking place “under the complicit eye of Russia”, which had deployed a peacekeeping force in this secessionist region in 2020.

The European Union (EU) reiterated the "need for transparency and access for international humanitarian aid and human rights officials, and for more details on Baku's vision for the future of Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians in Azerbaijan”.

In the flow of Armenian refugees, Azerbaijan is looking for possible perpetrators of “war crimes,” an Azerbaijani government source told Agence France-Presse on Tuesday. “Azerbaijan intends to provide amnesty to Armenian fighters who laid down their arms in Karabakh. But those who committed war crimes during the Karabakh wars must be handed over to us,” the source explained.

Dozens killed in fuel depot explosion

Monday evening, in the midst of an exodus, a fuel depot exploded in the enclave mainly populated by Armenians, in Stepanakert. The toll remained uncertain on Tuesday: Armenian separatists say at least 68 people died, but the Armenian health minister spoke of 125 people killed.

The European Union (EU) brought together senior French, German, Azerbaijani and Armenian diplomatic officials in Brussels on Tuesday. According to the EU press release, the discussions allowed for “intense exchanges between participants on the relevance of a possible meeting of the leaders” of Armenia and Azerbaijan, on the sidelines of an informal European summit of Twenty-Seven in Granada, southern Spain, on October 5. This summit was planned for a long time and was not canceled.