Traffic jams, exhausted motorists and hungry families, all under the watchful eye of the Azerbaijani victors: the exodus of Armenian inhabitants of Nagorno-Karabakh has accelerated since the opening of the Lachin corridor between the separatist province and Armenia. In three days, the Armenian authorities say they have welcomed more than 50,000 refugees, almost half of the population of Nagorno-Karabakh estimated at between 100,000 and 120,000 before the victorious offensive by the Baku army. At this rate, the former province, de facto independent for thirty years, will have lost its population in less than a week.
In the ambient chaos, the explosion of a fuel depot stormed by the inhabitants of the enclave, Monday September 25 in the evening in the middle of an exodus, caused the death of at least 68 people, a toll that could become heavier in view of the 290 injured and the hundred missing. The province’s hospital services, overwhelmed, evacuated dozens of injured people to Armenia. According to observers on site, most of the municipalities of Nagorno-Karabakh are already empty: the flow of inhabitants is heading towards Stepanakert, the former capital of the separatists, then from there seeking to reach Goris, in Armenia.
The European Union releases five million euros
The journey, which usually takes a couple of hours, is now completed in half a day or even a day, in the middle of an uninterrupted line of vehicles slowed down by checks by the Azerbaijani military. Most of the arrivals then disperse to relatives or go to hotels and municipal buildings requisitioned by the Yerevan authorities. Several European countries have made announcements to send emergency humanitarian aid, while the European Union has released five million euros as part of its program Echo.
Officially, the victors of the third Nagorno-Karabakh war promised to let the men pass, on the condition that they abandon their weapons. But “Those who committed war crimes during the Karabakh wars must be handed over to us”, said a government source cited by Agence France-Presse. In fact, this opens the way to all abuses in a country accustomed to human rights violations. This is how Ruben Vardanyan, a Russian-Armenian businessman and philanthropist who was prime minister of the separatist province (December 2022-February 2023), was arrested on Wednesday September 27 while trying to cross a roadblock.
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