Tbilisi, Sep 24 (EFE).- The authorities in Nagorno-Karabakh announced on Sunday the immediate evacuation of ethnic Armenians after Azerbaijan reclaimed control of the disputed region amid mounting ethnic cleansing fears.
In a press statement, the government of the unrecognized republic said the families of those left homeless due to “recent military action and who have expressed a desire to leave will be transferred to Armenia accompanied by Russian peacekeepers.”
The statement said officials would provide information about the relocation of other population groups in the near future. Some 120,000 people live in Karabakh.
The International Committee of the Red Cross reported Saturday that it successfully delivered 70 tons of humanitarian aid to the region through the Lachin corridor, blocked by Azerbaijan since the end of 2022.
Both Armenia and the Western nations had repeatedly called for unblocking the Lachin corridor to ensure that essential supplies could reach the people of Karabakh.
On Sunday, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said the arrival of humanitarian shipments “does not change the situation,” as the Armenians of Karabakh “continue to face the danger of ethnic cleansing.”
“If real living conditions are not created for the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh in their homes and effective mechanisms of protection against ethnic cleansing, then the likelihood is increasing that the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh will see expulsion from their homeland as the only way out.”
He said his country “will lovingly welcome our brothers and sisters from Nagorno-Karabakh,” if needed.
On Saturday, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliev insisted they would respect cultural, religious, and educational rights of the Karabakhs.
Aliev assured this to Toivo Klaar, the European Union Special Representative for the South Caucasus.
The president said Baku presented its plans for integrating the mountainous region in first meeting between Azerbaijani and Karabakh representatives on Thursday.
The region proclaimed its independence in 1991, but it the international community never recognized it and considered it a legitimate part of Azerbaijan.
The Azerbaijani Interior Ministry said Sunday it would guarantee the safe passage of Armenian fighters who have surrendered their weapons. EFE