After almost 30 years, the UN will send a mission to Nagorno-Karabakh to solve the humanitarian situation on the ground, Reuters reported. The United Nations intervention was agreed to by Azerbaijan, which gained control of the area after a flash war last week.
“The government of Azerbaijan and the UN have agreed on a mission to the region. The mission will take place over the weekend,” organization spokesman Stéphane Dujarric told reporters on Friday. A team of about a dozen experts, led by the UN’s humanitarian affairs department, will assess the needs of people who remain in the territory and those on the way, he added.
The announcement followed Armenia’s request for the World Court to order Azerbaijan to withdraw all its troops from civilian installations in Nagorno-Karabakh, allowing the UN safe access, Al Jazeera reported.
Concerns about the future of the region, which is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan although it has been under the control of Armenian separatists and its people for decades, persist despite the ceasefire.
Azerbaijan launched a military operation in the mountainous region last week to take control of it. Not long after, Azerbaijani troops breached the defensive positions of the Armenian separatists and the Karabakh authorities capitulated, ending the decade-long conflict.
The region, which was administered by separatists for over 30 years, will cease to exist with the new year, according to its leader Samvel Shahramanyan. All separatist authorities will be dissolved on January 1.
The area of about four thousand square kilometers is mainly inhabited by ethnic Armenians. They declared an independent state there, but according to international law the region remains part of Azerbaijan. The territory is connected to Armenia by the so-called Lachin Corridor, which is necessary for supplies.
During the time of the Soviet Union, Nagorno-Karabakh was an autonomous region (AO) within the Azerbaijan SSR. But then Baku canceled the autonomy of the region. Parts of Azerbaijan that did not belong to the former AO were part of the Armenian rebel formation in the past. The separatists gradually lost control over most of them, in the 2020 war, Baku also captured part of the original AO.
In September 2023, the separatists capitulated and the region is moving towards reunification with Azerbaijan. Armenians from Karabakh began to flee by the thousands.
100,000 ethnic Armenians have already left Nagorno-Karabakh
The events led to a mass migration of Armenian residents from Nagorno-Karabakh. By Saturday, more than 100,000 of them had crossed the border into Armenia, i.e. the majority of the original 120,000 inhabitants. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) came up with the data.
“Many of them are hungry, exhausted and need immediate help,” he noted on Platform X, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi.
“UNHCR and other humanitarian partners are stepping up support for the Armenian authorities, but there is a very urgent need for international assistance,” Grandi added.
How Armenians flee from Karabakh
Baku has promised that the people of the area will get all the rights like any other resident of the territory of Azerbaijan. But among the locals there are fears of restrictions and revenge; many of them therefore preferred to leave.
Armenian Prime Minister Pashinyan even stated that he expects no Armenians to remain in Nagorno-Karabakh in the coming days. He accused Azerbaijan of committing ethnic cleansing in the region. Baku disputed the claims and denied the allegations.
On Sunday, Azerbaijan opened the Lachin Corridor, the only land route between Karabakh and Armenia. Baku blocked this link for nine months, which led to a shortage of food and other basic needs in Karabakh.
Traffic jams have been forming on the road from Karabakh towards Armenia for several days, families are crammed into cars. In the town of Goris, near the border, aid is being intensified. Local hotels are full, offering free rooms, and Armenians on social media are offering accommodation to refugees across the country, BBC reported.