The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has taken critical action to alleviate the growing humanitarian crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh. In response to Azerbaijan’s military offensive, the ICRC recently dispatched its first shipment of food and fuel to the region.
The convoy, consisting of four trucks, crossed the border amid serious concerns about the worsening conditions faced by the civilian population. This delivery marks just the second instance in which civilian aid has reached Nagorno-Karabakh from Armenia since Azerbaijan closed a checkpoint on the internationally recognized border in June.
The ICRC has warned that the lack of access to humanitarian aid could potentially lead to a severe crisis. Reports of mass displacements have already emerged as Azerbaijani forces continue to claim territory. Although the ICRC has been able to transfer wounded individuals to hospitals within Nagorno-Karabakh, evacuating the injured to Armenia has proved to be challenging.
Amidst the ongoing conflict, Azerbaijan has demanded that local leadership disband, soldiers surrender their weapons, and residents accept governance under Azerbaijan or leave the region. This has triggered deep concern among a US congressional delegation, which has called for support for the civilians affected by the blockade.
In a gesture that hints at a resolution, Russian peacekeepers’ vehicles raced toward Nagorno-Karabakh shortly after the ICRC convoy’s passage. In a similar vein, Azerbaijan dispatched two tanker trucks filled with fuel to the de facto capital. The President’s foreign policy adviser expressed that these actions demonstrate the government’s good intentions and commitment to meeting the needs of Armenian residents.
Recognizing the pressing issues at hand, a government working group has been established to address the humanitarian, economic, and social aspects of integrating Nagorno-Karabakh and its ethnic Armenians into Azerbaijan. However, concerns persist regarding the possibility of forced displacement for tens of thousands of civilians and the potential for ethnic cleansing.
Experts stress the urgency of implementing a long-term solution that ensures sustainable humanitarian access. Additionally, they emphasize the importance of allowing individuals who wish to leave Nagorno-Karabakh the opportunity to do so. These measures are crucial to ensuring the protection and well-being of the affected population in the midst of this devastating conflict.
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