After the conquest of the Nagorno-Karabakh region in the South Caucasus by Azerbaijan, the first refugees from the Armenian population were evacuated to the motherland of Armenia. By Sunday afternoon, 377 forcibly displaced citizens from Nagorno-Karabakh had entered Armenia, the government in Yerevan wrote on Facebook.
At the United Nations in New York, Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirsoyan called for a UN mission to protect the tens of thousands of Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh. In Yerevan today, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan reaffirmed Armenia's readiness to accept the Karabakh Armenians.
Karabakh Armenians fear expulsion
After brief, violent attacks by the Azerbaijani military last week, the defenders of the internationally unrecognized Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh had to lay down their arms last week. Azerbaijan wants to reintegrate the area. The Karabakh Armenians fear expulsion or revenge from authoritarian Azerbaijan after decades of conflict.
After the attacks, refugees from other regions of Nagorno-Karabakh are crowding into the capital Stepanakert. This meant that food and medicine became even more scarce than they already are after months of blockade. “Families who are homeless after the recent military operation and who want to leave the republic will be brought to Armenia,” the leadership in Stepanakert said on Sunday. This will happen in the region accompanied by Russian peacekeepers.
Foreign Minister calls for immediate UN mission
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed concern about the situation of the Armenian population in Nagorno-Karabakh. The US also supports Armenia's sovereignty and territorial integrity, he wrote on the social network X (formerly Twitter) after a phone call with Pashinyan. Chancellor Olaf Scholz also said in a conversation with Pashinyan that the Karabakh Armenians must be protected.
The "truly devastating developments" in the region have shown that the problems cannot be solved "through statements and general appeals alone" - Armenia's Foreign Minister Mirsoyan said yesterday in New York. A UN mission must be sent to Nagorno-Karabakh immediately to monitor the human rights, humanitarian and security situation.
Pashinyan: Politics of ethnic cleansing
A growing flow of refugees is to be expected because Azerbaijan is pursuing a policy of ethnic cleansing, Pashinyan said. The Armenian government is ready to accept the people of Karabakh if all attempts to protect their rights locally fail.
Pashinyan is scheduled to meet Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev for talks on October 5 as part of the European Political Community (EPG) meeting in Granada, Spain. In preparation for this, representatives of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Germany, France and the EU will meet in Brussels next Tuesday, as the Armenian news agency Armenpress reported, citing the government.
Meanwhile, wounded Karabakh Armenian soldiers were brought to Armenia in ambulances. The convoy is being accompanied by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the Armenian Ministry of Health in Yerevan said. There was talk of 23 wounded. On Saturday, the ICRC helped collect wounded soldiers from several regions of Karabakh in Stepanakert.
In a video message to the population, Pashinyan once again expressed his disappointment with the previous protecting power, Russia. The peacekeepers did not protect the Karabakh Armenians, as agreed in 2020. Armenia must change its security policy, rely more on itself and look for other partners.