More than 100,000 inhabitants of Nagorno Karabakh fled to Armenia, about 83% of its total population, after Azerbaijan’s lightning offensive last week allowed it to regain control of the territory and raised fears of “ethnic cleansing.”
“So far, 100,437 people have arrived,” Armenian government spokesperson Nazeli Baghdasarian said at a press conference this Saturday. The official data was that about 120,000 Armenians lived in Nagorno Karabakh. “There are a few hundred officials, urgent workers, volunteers and people with special needs left, who are also preparing to leave,” the former mediator for the rights of Nagorno Karabakh, Artak Beglarian, wrote on the social network X.
In total, nearly 600 people died in the offensive with which Azerbaijan regained effective control of this territory. These last battles ended with some 200 soldiers dead on each side, while at least 170 people died after the explosion of a fuel tank that was taken by refugees as they fled along the only road that connects the mountainous enclave with the Republic of Armenia.
In the midst of this tension, an Azerbaijani soldier was killed by a sniper located on the Armenian side of the border, the Azerbaijani Ministry of Defense stated this Saturday, adding that its forces will retaliate. Armenia quickly denied that accusation in a statement, indicating that the ministry’s message “does not correspond to reality.”
Meanwhile, the United Nations (UN) announced the sending this weekend of a mission to Nagorno Karabakh, the first in 30 years, to assess humanitarian needs. Likewise, the UN World Food Program announced that it will accelerate its efforts to feed the more than 100,000 displaced people. In this sense, the agency reported that it plans to increase its rate of delivery of rations to 21,000 meals in the next two weeks, which are in addition to the delivery of ingredients such as cereals or cooking oil for 30,000 people.
Nagorno-Karabakh is within the international borders of Azerbaijan, but the inhabitants seceded in the years of disintegration of the Soviet Union, and since then they were at odds with the Azerbaijani power, with which they fought two wars with the support of neighboring Armenia. The first was fought between 1988 and 1994 and left some 30,000 dead. The Armenians took control of the region and established their republic there, without international recognition. The second war occurred in 2020 and left about 6,500 dead. In this case, Azerbaijan recovered areas of Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding territories that the Armenians had conquered in the previous conflict.
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