Karabakh separatists and Azerbaijan reach agreement on humanitarian supplies delivery

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After months of tension and blockade, the Armenian-backed separatist authorities in Nagorno-Karabakh and the Azerbaijani government have reached an agreement on the delivery of humanitarian supplies to the breakaway region. The deal, which was announced on Sunday, September 17, 2023, involves the simultaneous opening of two transport corridors: the Lachin corridor from Armenian territory and the Agdam road from Azerbaijani territory.

The Lachin corridor, which is the only land link between Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia, has been blocked by Azerbaijani checkpoints since last year, when a Russian-brokered truce ended six weeks of fighting that saw Armenia cede swathes of territory to Azerbaijan. The blockade has caused a humanitarian crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh, where ethnic Armenians have faced shortages of food, medicine, and energy supplies.

The Agdam road, which connects Nagorno-Karabakh with the rest of Azerbaijan, has been closed since the early 1990s, when Karabakh declared its independence from Baku following a war that killed tens of thousands of people. The reopening of the road will allow Russian-provided aid to be delivered directly from Baku-controlled territory for the first time in three decades.

The agreement was mediated by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which will coordinate the delivery of humanitarian cargo along both routes with the assistance of Russian peacekeeping troops. The ICRC notified the foreign ministry in Baku that the separatist authorities have agreed on parallel supplies of humanitarian cargo as of September 18 (Monday).

The deal marks the first step towards de-escalation in the volatile region, where both sides have accused each other of provocations and violations of the ceasefire in recent days. The separatist government said that unspecified mediators are working to organise a meeting with the official representatives of Artsakh (Armenian name of Nagorno-Karabakh) and Azerbaijan in order to alleviate the tense humanitarian and security situation in the republic.

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