7 Months of Blockade In Karabakh

Stepanakert, Karabakh (Photo: Ani Balayan/CivilNet)

By Mark Dovich

Azerbaijan’s blockade of Nagorno-Karabakh reached seven months today, as the region’s more than 100,000 Armenians grapple with severe shortages of food, energy, medicine, and other essentials.

The blockade began last December, when a group of self-styled Azerbaijani environmental activists set up a roadblock on the Lachin Corridor, the sole overland route between Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia. Many of them were later revealed to be connected with the government in Baku.

In April, Azerbaijani border guards in effect formalized the blockade by setting up a checkpoint along the road in violation of the 2020 ceasefire, which says Russian peacekeepers should control the Lachin corridor.

For most of the past 213 days, Azerbaijan has only allowed a limited number of vehicles belonging to the International Red Cross and Russian peacekeepers to travel between Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia.

During that time, the Red Cross has evacuated more than 600 people in need of critical medical treatment from Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia and brought in life-saving medicines and essential food. Meanwhile, the peacekeepers have emerged as Nagorno-Karabakh’s only supplier of fuel.

But now with Azerbaijan’s blockade at the seven-month mark, Nagorno-Karabakh faces total isolation: The peacekeepers have been blocked from the region since last month, while Azerbaijan again began refusing entry to the Red Cross yesterday.

With those lifelines gone, concern is mounting over the unfolding humanitarian crisis.

Gegham Stepanyan, Nagorno-Karabakh’s human rights defender, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service today that “if things continue this way, we will be facing a truly disastrous situation within days.” Armenia’s Foreign Ministry is now warning of an imminent threat of starvation in the region.

That is all despite a February ruling by a United Nations court ordering Azerbaijan to “take all measures at its disposal to ensure unimpeded movement of persons, vehicles, and cargo along the Lachin corridor in both directions.” Though the decision is legally binding, the court has no enforcement powers.

Since the end of the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war, CivilNet has been the only outside media organization with a field office in Stepanakert, providing on-the-ground coverage of the critical situation in the region.

Check out reporting from CivilNet Artsakh here:

Nagorno-Karabakh’s mothers grapple with scarce supplies for infants amid blockade

How Is Nagorno-Karabakh Handling Its Deepening Energy Crisis?

Made in Artsakh: Karabakh turns to local production amid blockade

Uncertainty plagues Nagorno-Karabakh students pursuing higher education

Karabakh mother’s search for food results in death of two children

leave a reply