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Red Cross calls for ‘humanitarian consensus’ between Armenia and Azerbaijan to resume ‘life-saving’ work in NK

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Red Cross calls for ‘humanitarian consensus’ between Armenia and Azerbaijan to resume ‘life-saving’ work in NK

YEREVAN, JULY 25, ARMENPRESS. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has called on Armenia and Azerbaijan to reach what it described as a ‘humanitarian consensus’ in order for it to be able to continue its ‘life-saving work’ of supplying humanitarian assistance to Nagorno Karabakh.

“Despite persistent efforts, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is not currently able to bring humanitarian assistance to the civilian population through the Lachin corridor or through any other routes, including Aghdam. The organisation is calling on the relevant decision makers to allow the ICRC to resume its essential humanitarian operations in the area. Tens of thousands of people rely on humanitarian aid reaching them through these routes. The civilian population is now facing a lack of life-saving medication and essentials like hygiene products and baby formula. Fruits, vegetables, and bread are increasingly scarce and costly, while some other food items such as dairy products, sunflower oil, cereal, fish, and chicken are not available. The last time the ICRC was allowed to bring medical items and essential food items into the area was several weeks ago,” the ICRC said in a press release.

ICRC’s regional director for Eurasia, Ariane Bauer expressed concern that the humanitarian situation will further deteriorate.

“Our humanitarian aid convoys are a lifeline for the population in this area. With these convoys blocked, our concern is that the humanitarian situation will further deteriorate. We are most worried about those who cannot help themselves. The sick and people with chronic diseases are particularly at risk, as are the elderly, infirm and children. For us to operate here, we need the sides to reach a humanitarian consensus. This is life-saving work, and it must be allowed to continue,” Bauer said.

Under international humanitarian law, sides must allow and facilitate the rapid and unimpeded passage of humanitarian relief for civilians in need. This includes medical supplies and essential food, the ICRC said.

The ICRC was able to evacuate 24 sick patients across the Lachin Corridor over the last few days, ensuring that they receive the medical treatment they need. Overall, the ICRC said it has evacuated more than 600 people in urgent need of medical care since December 2022.

The ICRC said it continues its bilateral dialogue with the sides and stands ready to continue its humanitarian work once such a consensus is found.

Lachin Corridor, the only road connecting Nagorno Karabakh with Armenia and the rest of the world, has been blocked by Azerbaijan since late 2022. The Azerbaijani blockade constitutes a gross violation of the 2020 Nagorno Karabakh ceasefire agreement, which established that the 5km-wide Lachin Corridor shall be under the control of Russian peacekeepers. Furthermore, on February 22, 2023 the United Nations’ highest court – the International Court of Justice (ICJ) - ordered Azerbaijan to “take all steps at its disposal” to ensure unimpeded movement of persons, vehicles and cargo along the Lachin Corridor in both directions. Azerbaijan has been ignoring the order ever since. Moreover, Azerbaijan then illegally installed a checkpoint on Lachin Corridor. The blockade has led to shortages of essential products such as food and medication. Azerbaijan has also cut off gas and power supply into Nagorno Karabakh, with officials warning that Baku seeks to commit ethnic cleansing against Armenians in Nagorno Karabakh. Hospitals have suspended normal operations and the Red Cross has been facilitating the medical evacuations of patients.

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