Urgent appeal for international intervention to prevent an impending security and humanitarian catastrophe in Artsakh
Saturday, 15 July, 2023, 10:00
President of the Republic of Artsakh, Arayik Harutyunyan, has taken decisive action by sending letters to heads of all UN Security Council member states, the UN Secretary General, the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, the President of the European Council, the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, as well as the Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia, urging them to fulfill their international obligations and promptly implement effective measures to halt the illegal and complete blockade imposed on Artsakh by Azerbaijan, and to put an end to the systematic mass crimes and acts of terrorism against the people of Artsakh. The letter not only conveyed the expectations of the Republic of Artsakh from each recipient but also provided an overview of the current situation. The main part of the letter reads as follows: "As the President of the Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh), I urgently appeal to the international community on behalf of the government and people of Artsakh. I wish to draw your attention to the escalating security and humanitarian crisis in Artsakh, which is rapidly evolving into a full-blown disaster. This dire situation is a direct result of the following criminal actions committed by Azerbaijan: - On December 12, 2022, as a result of Azerbaijan's illegal blockade of the Lachin (Kashatagh) Corridor, which connects Artsakh with Armenia and the outside world, approximately 120,000 residents of Artsakh found themselves under siege. Furthermore, about 30,000 citizens of the Republic of Artsakh were deprived of the opportunity to exercise their right to return to their homeland; - Since then, humanitarian movement of people and cargo through the Lachin Corridor has been exclusively carried out by the International Committee of the Red Cross and Russian peacekeeping forces, with very limited capacity and certain periodic disruptions, while the movement of vehicles belonging to the residents of Artsakh has been completely prohibited; - Since January 9, 2023, Azerbaijan has disrupted the supply of electricity through the sole high-voltage line between Armenia and Artsakh, which has caused significant energy and humanitarian problems in Artsakh over the past 185 days. There have been daily six-hour power outages, a 48% decrease in electricity consumption, and depletion of local electricity production and supply systems. Starting from December 13, 2023, Azerbaijan periodically, and since March 21, almost continuously, has been interrupting the only gas supply from Armenia to Artsakh (for a total of 148 days), thereby deepening the energy and humanitarian crisis; - On April 23, Azerbaijan established an illegal checkpoint in the Lachin Corridor at the border between Artsakh and Armenia, officially and openly imposing strict and arbitrary military control over all movements; - Since June 15, Azerbaijan has imposed a complete blockade on the Lachin Corridor, prohibiting the transportation of any individuals or goods (including food, medicine, hygiene items, and fuel) in both directions even by the Red Cross and Russian peacekeepers; - From June 25 to July 10, the transportation of patients with urgent medical needs to medical centers in Armenia, along with the import of some medicines into Artsakh, were resumed in a very limited capacity only through the Red Cross. However, starting from July 10, the movement of the Red Cross has been blocked again; - Throughout this entire period, Azerbaijan has been using force and the threat of force against the people of Artsakh, with clear manifestations of ethnic hatred and terrorism, and with the evident goal of ethnic cleansing; - By using force and the threat of force, Azerbaijan continues to obstruct agricultural activities on approximately 10,000 hectares of land adjacent to the contact line, which constitutes a significant portion of the total cultivated land; - The suspension of all humanitarian supplies since June 15, coupled with the utilization of limited domestic stocks, has resulted in a worsening humanitarian situation, in particular: o The food shortage is worsening, especially considering that prior to the blockade, around 90% of all consumed food was imported from Armenia; o Due to the diminishing availability of fuel and other essential resources, approximately 70% of planned agricultural work has been halted, while the impact on other sectors of the economy is even more significant; o Due to the same reason, internal public transportation has been reduced by approximately 50%, while private transportation has nearly come to a standstill; o The growing shortage of medications, medical supplies and hygiene items, coupled with the ban on transporting medical patients to Armenia, poses an increasing threat to people's lives and well-being; o Daily power outages and fuel shortages have severely impacted the operation of medical equipment, leading to a decrease in the volume and quality of healthcare services; o Due to the lack of essential food and vitamins, approximately 2,000 pregnant women and around 30,000 children are struggling to survive under conditions of malnutrition. The daily power outages, fuel shortages, and lack of other essential items are causing significant disruptions in water supply and telecommunication infrastructure in many populated areas. The blockade and disruptions in the supply of electricity and gas have rendered over 12,000 people unemployed and deprived of their livelihoods, which represents over 60% of the private sector workforce. The complete blockade of the Republic of Artsakh and its isolation from the outside world, pursued with the intermediate goal of forcibly subjugating the people of Artsakh, deepens the humanitarian crisis and sets the stage for the transformation of Azerbaijan's ongoing crimes against humanity into the crime of genocide. Through these actions, Azerbaijan deliberately creates unbearable conditions for the people of Artsakh, with the clear intention of depopulating the region and annihilating its people. The aforementioned and many other security and humanitarian issues pose an increasing threat to the survival of the people of Artsakh. The current situation is highly volatile and has the potential to rapidly transform into a full-fledged catastrophe, not only for the people of Artsakh but for the entire region. Regrettably, Azerbaijan continues to demonstrate a willful disregard for its international obligations, repeatedly violating the provisions of the Trilateral Statement of November 9, 2020, the ruling of December 21, 2023, from the European Court of Human Rights, the orders issued by International Court of Justice on February 22 and July 6, 2023. Azerbaijan's actions persist despite the demands and appeals of numerous international organizations and states. Furthermore, Azerbaijan's aggressive and criminal activities have been fueled by the prevailing sense of impunity within the international community".