Over 80% of Armenians Flee Nagorno-Karabakh Amid Tensions with Azerbaijan

Frightened Residents Abandon Homes and Seek Refugee in Armenia

More than 100,000 Armenians have fled the disputed Caucasus territory of Nagorno-Karabakh since the surrender of Armenian separatists on September 20. These residents account for over 80% of the region’s once bustling population of 120,000 people. Fearful of potential retaliation from Azerbaijani forces, many have left their homes despite Baku’s assurances of safety for those who remain. Among the evacuees are public officials, rescuers, volunteers, and individuals with special needs, preparing to abandon the territory along with countless other civilians.

Tense and Chaotic Exodus Leads to Humanitarian Crisis

The daunting influx of refugees has created a new humanitarian crisis as the displaced seek refuge across the border in Armenia. At the Kornidzor border crossing, an AFP correspondent reports the scene of ambulances and relief workers waiting for the last buses carrying fleeing civilians. In the nearby Armenian city of Goris, hundreds of desperate refugees clutching their suitcases sit in the town square, awaiting available lodging as night falls.

  • First UN Mission in Over 30 Years: The United Nations announced that it will send a delegation to assess humanitarian needs in Nagorno-Karabakh. This marks the first time the organization has set foot in the territory in more than three decades.
  • New Accusations of Ethnic Cleansing: Yerevan accuses Azerbaijan of ethnic cleansing, turning to the International Court to demand immediate protection for the enclave’s inhabitants.
  • Russian Role Questioned: Armenia questions the passiveness of its traditional ally, Russia, which has maintained peacekeeping troops in Nagorno-Karabakh since 2020 but did not act to guarantee respect for the ceasefire.

Nagorno-Karabakh: A Hotbed of Conflict for Over Three Decades

Control over Nagorno-Karabakh has been a source of contention between Armenians and Azerbaijanis for more than 30 years. In this period, two wars have occurred: one between 1988 and 1994 and another at the end of 2020 when separatists lost much of their territory. Both times, ethnic Armenians in the region received support from Yerevan, clashing with the government of Azerbaijan.

150 Fatalities in Fuel Depot Explosion En Route to Armenia

In an alarming development amid the mass exodus, at least 170 people died on Monday in a fuel depot explosion along the lone connecting route between Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia. The incident added to the frenzy surrounding the chaotic migration, further fueling claims of ethnic cleansing and unrest in the region.

A Sense of Betrayal by Former Allies

As they depart their homes and country in fear, many Armenian residents express disappointment and mistrust towards former allies who seemingly abandoned them during this time of vulnerability. One former soldier named Garri Hariumian deleted photos of deceased comrades from his smartphone to avoid potential conflicts with Azerbaijani troops during the evacuation. Such actions underscore the sense of betrayal felt by those fleeing what was once considered protected territory.

A Call for International Help and Enduring Uncertainty

With over 80% of Nagorno-Karabakh’s Armenian population ousted from their homeland, the situation remains dire and uncertain. As refugees pour into Armenia, the UN’s impending visit marks a crucial step in assessing the region’s humanitarian needs and addressing potential war crimes. While Armenians fear for their safety at the hands of Azerbaijani forces, the prospect of enduring tensions and hostility raises serious questions about the future of the disputed territory.


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