Status: 27.09.2023, 15:40 p.m.
After the conquest of Nagorno-Karabakh by Azerbaijan, the number of people fleeing to Armenia is growing. © Gayane Yenokyan/AP/dpa
The flow of refugees from the conflict region of Nagorno-Karabakh in the Caucasus continues after the conquest by Azerbaijan. In the meantime, more than 50,000 people have crossed the border to the motherland of Armenia.
Yerevan/Stepanakert - More than 50,000 people have now fled to Armenia from the Caucasian conflict region of Nagorno-Karabakh, which was recaptured by Azerbaijan.
This was announced today by the press secretary of the head of the Armenian government, Nikol Pashinyan, Naseli Bagdasaryan. A reception camp has been set up in the village of Kornidzor. The Armenian government has promised to provide accommodation for all refugees.
Last week, Azerbaijan forced the government of the internationally unrecognized Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) to surrender and conquered the region with short, violent attacks. Since then, a mass exodus of the local population has begun. Satellite images show long queues of cars.
Former head of government arrested
Kornidzor is located in Armenia near the Lachin Corridor, which connects the Armenian heartland with Nagorno-Karabakh, which is located on Azerbaijani territory but has so far been inhabited mainly by Armenians. The area has been contested between the ex-Soviet republics of Azerbaijan and Armenia for decades. The Armenians there fear violence and persecution after the conquest by Azerbaijan.
Today it also became known that Azerbaijan detained the former head of the Artsakh government, Ruben Vardanyan, on the border with Armenia. Vardanyan was taken to the capital Baku, where the authorities decided on further action against him, Azerbaijan's border guard said. Accordingly, Vardanyan is accused of illegal entry into Azerbaijan. Whether there are further allegations against the 55-year-old is unknown.
Vardanyan's wife, Veronika Sonabend, confirmed the arrest. Her husband was imprisoned by the Azerbaijani authorities while trying to leave for Armenia, she wrote on her husband's Telegram channel. Vardanyan, who became a billionaire businessman in Russia, moved to Nagorno-Karabakh last fall, where he held the post of head of government between November 2022 and February 2023.
Numerous dead and injured
The flight of the Armenians is also overshadowed by the explosion of a fuel depot. At least 68 people died and 290 were injured. The explosion had hit people on Monday evening who wanted to refuel their cars for the flight from Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia.
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In the meantime, according to information from Yerevan, 237 injured people have been brought to Armenia, some by helicopters, some by ambulance. These are both victims of the explosion and victims of the Azerbaijani attack, government spokeswoman Bagdasaryan stressed. According to her, another 80 injured people will be brought to Armenia during the day.
Azerbaijan had also officially offered assistance to those injured in the fuel storage explosion, without any response from Nagorno-Karabakh. At the same time, Baku announced the amount of its own losses in the military operation to recapture Nagorno-Karabakh. According to the report, 192 Azerbaijani soldiers were killed, another 511 were injured.
Calls for an international observer mission
Meanwhile, international pressure on Baku is growing due to the catastrophic humanitarian situation in the conflict region. Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) has called on Azerbaijan to allow international observers into the Nagorno-Karabakh region. "What is needed now is transparency and the eyes and ears of the international community on the ground." Baerbock announced that funding for the International Committee of the Red Cross would be increased from two to five million euros.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken had also called on Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev in a telephone call on Tuesday to allow an international observer mission. A spokesman for the Foreign Ministry said afterwards that Aliyev would accept a mission. Dpa