Crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh

Blockade must be lifted immediately

Sir, – Thousands of lives are in peril in Nagorno-Karabakh and the blockade of it must be lifted immediately. That’s the assessment of Amnesty International earlier this month just as the region marked two months since the blockade began on December 12th. Amnesty’s warning joins a chorus of international condemnation of Azerbaijan’s actions.

What’s more, the aid to end this humanitarian crisis is astonishingly close. Less than 10km away along the Lachin Corridor lies Armenia, which if the route was unblocked, would send essential supplies in just hours. The closed shops and empty markets in Nagorno-Karabakh’s capital Stepanakert would reopen and basics like fruit and vegetables, which have almost vanished, would reappear.

Families could breathe a sigh of relief as the severe shortages of baby formula and medicines would end.

But instead of a humane response from Azerbaijan, it still sporadically turns off gas and electricity supplies, adding one more layer of misery to the 120,000 people living there. The freezing winter temperatures might not be as hostile if Nagorno-Karabakh’s people knew that the Lachin Corridor was again open and the hundreds of tonnes of cargo that used to flow daily, were moving once more. But that path has been slammed shut like a prison door. Since December 12th the self-proclaimed eco-protesters have blockaded Nagorno-Karabakh’s only supply route to the entire world. The “protests” are nothing short of an orchestrated stunt designed to squeeze the region’s majority Armenian population into leaving altogether, also known as ethnic cleansing.


The blockade clearly violates the Trilateral statement of November 9th, 2020, which says the Lachin Corridor shall remain under the control of Russian peacekeepers while Azerbaijan guarantees the safe movement of citizens, vehicles, and cargo.

As Armenia’s foreign minister Ararat Mirzoyan mentioned last month at the OSCE Permanent Council, “The blockade of Nagorno-Karabakh is not an isolated episode but must be seen as part of a widespread and systematic policy of Azerbaijan aimed at the ethnic cleansing of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh: through creating unbearable living conditions, Azerbaijan aims to coerce the people of Nagorno-Karabakh to leave their native land, leave their homes.”

There are 30,000 children in Nagorno-Karabakh, and Unicef says the impact on them is worsening with many deprived of parental care.

As the blockade creeps towards into its third month it’s clear that any early assumptions it would be short-lived are now redundant and it is crucial that the momentum created by many countries calling for the reopening of the Lachin Corridor is maintained.

The blockade punishes thousands of innocent people and places a totally unnecessary strain on them. The chokehold placed on Nagorno-Karabakh only reveals its cruelty because convoys of food, medicines, and other essentials sit next door in Armenia ready to move.

Many countries, including the US, UK, and France, have called for the immediate re-opening of the Lachin Corridor. A recent European Parliament resolution called for the unblocking of the corridor and for the “EU to be actively involved and ensure that the inhabitants of Nagorno-Karabakh are no longer held hostage by Baku’s activism”. Other countries have also adopted resolutions on this humanitarian crisis but the momentum needs to be sustained.

The world should be clear that issues related to guaranteeing the rights and security of Nagorno-Karabakh’s people can be done through the creation of an international mechanism for dialogue between Baku and Stepanakert.

But no negotiation can succeed while a tragedy continues to unfold in plain sight. Nagorno-Karabakh’s plight is urgent, and when Armenia’s prime minister Nikol Pashinyan warned of genocide, the words “never again” are only said in earnest. – Yours, etc,


Ambassador of Armenia to Ireland.