The United Nations is set to send a mission to Nagorno-Karabakh this weekend, its first arrival in the breakaway region in nearly 30 years, amid reports that more than 80% of the population has been displaced.
This announcement comes after Azerbaijan’s lightning victory over the region, marking the end of long years of fighting.
Concerns about The future of the region – It is viewed internationally as part of Azerbaijan even though it has been under separatist control for decades – and its population remains despite Russia-brokered ceasefire.
Armenian Prime Minister’s spokeswoman, Nazli Baghdasaryan, told reporters that by Saturday morning local time, more than 100,000 people had left Nagorno-Karabakh heading to Armenia.
This represents more than 80% of the estimated population of 120,000 people in the Strip.
UN Secretary-General’s spokesman Stephane Dujarric said during a press conference on Friday that the mission’s visit was approved by Azerbaijan and will continue over the weekend.
“We haven’t been able to get there for about 30 years. So it’s very important that we can get in,” he said.
“While there, the team will seek to assess the situation on the ground and determine the humanitarian needs of both remaining people and people on the move,” the spokesperson added.
David Jahramanian – Reuters
Vehicles carrying refugees from Nagorno-Karabakh head towards the Armenian border on September 25, 2023.
Armenian authorities responded to the influx of people by asking the International Court of Justice, the judicial arm of the United Nations, to require Azerbaijan to withdraw its forces – citing fears of “punitive measures.”
They asked the court to order Azerbaijan to “withdraw all military and law enforcement personnel from all civilian institutions in Nagorno-Karabakh,” while refraining from “taking any measures directly or indirectly” that would have the effect of displacing the remaining ethnic Armenians or Prevent them from doing so. who fled to return.
Armenian authorities also demanded that Azerbaijan allow people to leave the region “without any hindrance” if they want.
Armenia also asked the court to direct Azerbaijan to grant the United Nations and the Red Cross access to Nagorno-Karabakh.
Armenian authorities said Azerbaijan should “refrain from taking punitive measures against current or former political or military representatives in Nagorno-Karabakh.”
The leaders were arrested
This appeal comes as Azerbaijani state media reported on Friday that the country’s security services arrested two former commanders of the self-proclaimed “Republic of Artsakh” army.
Lovin Mnatsakanyan and Davit Manukyan were intercepted while trying to cross from Nagorno-Karabakh into Armenia via the Lachin Pass, the only road connecting the landlocked enclave to Armenia.
Mnatsakanyan, who reportedly served as defense minister from 2015 to 2018, was arrested on Friday and taken to the Azerbaijani capital, Baku, state media reported. He was accused of entering its territory illegally.
Azerbaijani state media reported that Manukyan, who was said to be the former deputy commander of the armed forces in Nagorno-Karabakh, was arrested on Wednesday.
He has been accused of involvement in terrorism, forming illegal armed groups, illegal possession of a firearm, and illegal entry into Azerbaijan, although no evidence has been provided to support these allegations.
CNN was unable to independently verify a video clip published by the Azerbaijani State Security Service showing Manukyan in Azerbaijani detention.
The arrests were announced after prominent Nagorno-Karabakh politician and businessman Ruben Vardanyan was indicted on multiple charges in Azerbaijan on Thursday after he was arrested while trying to cross into Armenia the day before, state media reported, citing Azerbaijan’s State Security Service.
Vardanyan, the former state minister of the self-declared republic, is accused of financing terrorism, participating in the creation and activities of illegal armed groups and illegally crossing the Azerbaijani border, state media reported. Azerbaijan did not provide evidence to support its claims.
On Thursday, local politician David Babayan, an advisor to Samvel Shahramanyan, the president of the so-called “Republic of Artsakh,” wrote on Telegram that he would surrender himself to Azerbaijan.
“My failure to appear, or worse, my escape, will cause grave harm to our long-suffering nation, and to many people, and I, as an honest, hard-working, patriotic and Christian person, cannot allow this,” Babayan wrote.
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