A group of UN human rights experts have expressed alarm over the ongoing blockade of the Lachin corridor by Azerbaijan, which has led to a dire humanitarian crisis in the region of Nagorno-Karabakh.
The Lachin corridor is the only land route connecting Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia, and it has been blocked by Azerbaijani forces for the past seven months, in violation of the ceasefire agreement signed in November 2020.
The blockade has created severe shortages of essential food staples, medication, and hygiene products for the population of Nagorno-Karabakh, which is estimated to be around 150,000 people. The experts warned that the region was rapidly depleting its medical reserves, and hospitals were struggling to provide care as the operation of ambulances has been hampered due to declining fuel supplies. They also said that the blockade has impacted the functioning of educational institutions, and placed the lives of the residents – especially children, persons with disabilities, older persons, pregnant women, and the sick – at significant risk.
The UN experts urged the authorities in Azerbaijan to immediately restore the free and secure movement of persons, vehicles, and cargo moving along the Lachin corridor in both directions, in accordance with the ceasefire agreement. They also called on Russian peacekeeping forces deployed in the region to protect the corridor under the terms of the ceasefire agreement.
“By lifting the blockade, the authorities can alleviate the suffering of thousands of people in Nagorno-Karabakh and allow for the unimpeded flow of humanitarian assistance to the civilian population,” the experts said. “It is essential to ensure the safety, dignity, and well-being of all individuals during this critical time,” they added.
The UN experts also emphasized the importance of cooperation and dialogue among all parties involved to find a peaceful and sustainable resolution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. They said that they were ready to engage with all relevant stakeholders to monitor and assess the human rights situation in the region.