Tens of thousands of refugees flee Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia | EUROtoday

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Tens of thousands of ethnic Armenians rushed on Wednesday to flee the breakaway area of Nagorno-Karabakh for Armenia after a lightning army operation by Azerbaijan that has recast the contours of the post-Soviet South Caucasus.

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So way over 28,000 of the 120,000 Armenians of Karabakh, a area internationally recognised as half of Azerbaijan, have crossed within the border into Armenia, a rustic of about 2.8 million.

A army victory by Azerbaijan over the enclave, which was beforehand past Baku’s management, every week in the past has triggered one of the largest actions of individuals within the South Caucasus because the fall of the Soviet Union.

The hairpin mountain highway snaking out of Karabakh in the direction of Armenia was choked with individuals. Many slept in vehicles or looked for firewood to heat themselves by the facet of the highway.

“I left everything behind. I don’t know what is in store for me. I have nothing. I don’t want anything,” Vera Petrosyan, a 70-year-old retired instructor, instructed Reuters on Tuesday on the giant Soviet-era resort on the Armenian facet of the border with Azerbaijan that’s now her residence.

“I would not want anybody to see what I have seen,” she added, reflecting on the shootings, the starvation, turmoil and struggling she witnessed earlier than escaping to Armenia.

Read extraNagorno-Karabakh battle: How Azerbaijan pressured Armenia to again down

Azerbaijan’s 24-hour offensive in Karabakh got here amid a blockade imposed on the enclave final December. It just isn’t clear precisely what occurred earlier than the Karabakh management agreed to a ceasefire. Azerbaijan says civilians weren’t harmed.

Armenia and Azerbaijan have fought two wars over the enclave in 30 years – with Azerbaijan gaining again swathes of territory in and round Nagorno-Karabakh in a six-week battle in 2020.

Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev mentioned that the rights of Armenians can be revered however mentioned his “iron fist” had consigned the concept of an unbiased ethnic Armenian Karabakh to historical past and that the area could be became a “paradise.”

The Armenians of Karabakh instructed Reuters they didn’t need to stay as half of Azerbaijan and feared ethnic cleaning by the hands of Azerbaijan, which has repeatedly dismissed such claims as nonsense.

Fire and diplomacy

As thousands rushed to depart, there was a serious explosion at a gas depot within the Askeran district of Nagorno-Karabakh on Monday, in accordance to the native authorities. It was unclear what brought about it.

There had been conflicting particulars concerning the toll of the blast however the ethnic Armenian authorities mentioned not less than 68 had been killed, 105 had been lacking and practically 300 had been injured.

The badly injured had been evacuated by helicopter to Armenia because the roads out had been so jammed with site visitors {that a} journey of simply 77 km (48 miles) to the border was taking not less than 30 hours.

The Karabakh disaster has shifted alliances within the South Caucasus area, a patchwork of ethnicities wedged between the Caspian and the Black seas the place Russia, the United States, Turkey and Iran vie for affect.

Armenia, which was aligned with Russia, has rowed in public with Moscow which in flip has warned Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, who’s dealing with calls to resign, to cease flirting with the West.

The United States, residence to the second largest Armenian diaspora on the earth after Russia, despatched senior officers to Armenia to present their assist.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken requested Azerbaijan’s Aliyev on Tuesday “to emphasize the need for Azerbaijan to refrain from further hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh and provide unhindered humanitarian access,” State Spokesperson Matthew Miller mentioned.

“The Secretary urged President Aliyev to commit to broad amnesty and allow an international observer mission into Nagorno-Karabakh,” Miller mentioned.

Aliyev instructed Blinken “that military facilities only had been targeted during the anti-terror measures, which lasted less than 24 hours, and civilians had not been harmed,” in accordance to assertion by Azerbaijan’s presidential workplace.

“President Ilham Aliyev underlined that respective activities are underway to ensure the rights of Armenian residents living in the Karabakh region,” it mentioned.