Western aid for Karabakh Armenians

As authorities declared the dissolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic and the majority of the population fled the region, the US, EU member states, and global aid organizations started sending aid to meet the needs of the refugees.

The head of the USAID, Samantha Power, arrived in Armenia this week, amid the mass exodus of Armenians from Karabakh. Power also visited Syunik, where USAID has set up a working group to work with the refugees.

In an apparent setback from Assistant Secretary of State Yuri Kim’s earlier statement that the US would not “tolerate any military action”, or “any attack on the people of Nagorno-Karabakh”, Power and the US representatives in Armenia remained mild in commenting on Azerbaijan’s attack on the region and the ongoing ethnic cleansing. However, USAID is providing so far the biggest aid package aimed at meeting the needs of the refugees.

The UN World Food Program team, too, arrived in Syunik this week, setting up mobile tents to provide the refugees with hot food, saying it is ready to move to other places in the country if necessary.

The European Union will be sending €5,5 million in assistance, while France sent €7 million, in addition to another €5,5 million sent earlier this year. France also said it will open a consulate in Armenia’s southern Syunik region.

Germany sent €5 million to the residents of Nagorno-Karabakh through ICRC, and Sweden sent around $1,4 million as humanitarian assistance. Canada sent an aid of $2,5 million. Spain announced sending €1 million in humanitarian assistance for the refugees.

The United States aid for Nagorno-Karabakh is worth $11,5 million, with $1 million sent through USAID and $10,5 through the State Department.

The Armenian government conducts needs assessments in Goris, one of the first stops for Karabakh Armenians after crossing the border, providing accommodation to those who need it. All the refugees are set to receive roughly $250 in cash from the government.

More than 90 thousand Armenians have already left Nagorno-Karabakh, with thousands of others expected to come in the next few days. Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan stated on September 28 that “no Armenians” will be left in Nagorno-Karabakh in the coming days.

And while Karabakh Armenians try to find refuge in Armenia, with little hope or optimism about ever going back home, the West and Russia speak about observation missions in the region.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stated during the opening Ceremony of the UN General Assembly on September 23 that Russia will do its best to establish a “peaceful life” in Nagorno-Karabakh. “The Russian peacekeeping contingent will contribute in every possible way to this”, he stated. Lavrov discussed the possibility of sending humanitarian aid to Nagorno-Karabakh with Azerbaijan’s Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov. Russian peacekeepers provided food and other essential goods to Karabakh residents along with ICRC as the people were waiting for the opening of the Lachin corridor after Azerbaijan’s assault.

The Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov stated on Friday that the issue of extending the Russian peacekeeping mission in Nagorno-Karabakh would be discussed with Baku, as it is an “Azerbaijani territory”.

In the meantime, the United States, EU, and other Western countries claim they are working on an “international mission” to be deployed to Nagorno-Karabakh.

The EU insisted on September 29 that “it is essential that a UN mission can access the territory within the next days”.

Washington, in turn, announced that it is “very serious” about deploying an International mission in Nagorno-Karabakh “with allies”. According to US officials, Baku had tentatively agreed on the deployment of the monitoring mission.

Official Baku has not yet commented on the issue, while Karabakh authorities advised the residents to make “independent and individual” decisions whether they want to return to or remain in Nagorno-Karabakh.