A group of UN experts on Monday expressed alarm over the ongoing blockade of the Lachin corridor by Azerbaijan, which has led to a dire humanitarian crisis in the region of Nagorno-Karabakh.
The blockade, obstructing the sole road connecting Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia for the past seven months, has left the population facing acute shortages of food staples, medication, and hygiene products, impacted the functioning of medical and educational institutions, and placed the lives of the residents – especially children, persons with disabilities, older persons, pregnant women, and the sick – at significant risk.
“The blockade of the Lachin Corridor is a humanitarian emergency that has created severe shortages of essential food staples including sunflower oil, fish, chicken, dairy products, cereal, sugar and baby formula,” the experts said.
They warned that the region was rapidly depleting its medical reserves, and hospitals were struggling to provide care as the operation of ambulances has been hampered due to declining fuel supplies.
The experts are Michael Fakhri, Special Rapporteur on the right to food; Farida Shaheed, Special Rapporteur on the right to education; Claudia Mahler, Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons; Gerard Quinn, Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities.
They urged authorities in Azerbaijan to immediately restore the free and secure movement of persons, vehicles, and cargo moving along the Lachin corridor in both directions, in accordance with the ceasefire agreement of November 2020.
They also called on Russian peacekeeping forces deployed in the region, to protect the corridor under the terms of the ceasefire agreement.
“By lifting the blockade, the authorities can alleviate the suffering of thousands of people in Nagorno-Karabakh and allow for the unimpeded flow of humanitarian assistance to the civilian population,” the experts said. “It is essential to ensure the safety, dignity, and well-being of all individuals during this critical time,” they said.
“We urge the Government of Azerbaijan to uphold its international obligations to respect and protect human rights, including the right to food, health, education and life. We also emphasize the importance of cooperation and dialogue among all parties involved to find a peaceful and sustainable resolution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict,” the experts said.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres last week called on Azerbaijan to immediate end the Lachin Corridor blockade.
The UN’s International Children’s Emergency Fund, known as UNICEF, echoed Guterres’ appeal.
“In line with the principles enshrined in international humanitarian law and child rights, UNICEF calls on all parties to ensure humanitarian access for the distribution of critical supplies to children and their families. We urge all parties involved and those who have influence over them to place children’s safety and survival above all other considerations,” Octavian Bivol, UNICEF’s Europe and Central Asia Regional Director told News.am Monday.