An Azerbaijani blockade along the only route connecting a breakaway region largely populated by ethnic Armenians to Armenia and the outside world, according to Catholic experts, is causing acute and potentially disastrous shortages of food, medicine, and other basic supplies for as many as 120,000 people.
The European Union, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and Caritas have decried the ongoing blockade and issued new calls for its immediate lifting, as a 19-truck caravan carrying some 400 tons of relief supplies remains stranded.
The leader of the ethnic Armenian region of Nagorno-Karabakh, Arayik Harutiunian, issued an urgent appeal on August 8th, calling on the international community to press for the immediate lifting of the blockade in order to prevent what he called, “the genocide of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh.”
“[R]ight now,” Harutiunian said, “the people of the Republic of Artsakh,” as the breakaway ethnic Armenians refer to Nagorno-Karabakh, “are being subjected to genocide and face a real threat of destruction and deprivation of their homeland.”
Late last month, Crux reported on the efforts of Caritas Armenia in the face of what was already a protracted and extremely difficult humanitarian situation created by the blockade of the main road through the Lachin Corridor.
“We believe that only with an adequate response from the global community,” Dr. Lusine Stepanyan of Caritas Armenia told Crux in July, “can we guarantee that human rights are not compromised or influenced by any economic or political agendas and all people really have access to humanitarian aid as prescribed by the international humanitarian law.”
The blockade has been in place since December 2022, and tightened in June and again in July after Azerbaijan accused the ICRC of carrying illicit materials and further restricted access.
Earlier this summer. The Vatican’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, visited both Armenia and Azerbaijan, partly to further negotiations over the future of the region.
Meanwhile, Azerbaijan says it will allow supplies to travel by another road that leads through a town Azerbaijan controls, but ethnic Armenian authorities in Nagorno-Karabakh have refused the offer and insist that Azerbaijan’s blockade violates a 2020 cease-fire agreement that put the Lachin Corridor under the control of Russian peacekeepers.