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09/15/2023 Artsakh (International Christian Concern) – On September 9, in a step toward obtaining aid, authorities in Nagorno-Karabakh, known locally as Artsakh, were forced under threat of starvation to come to an agreement with the Azerbaijani regime. Azerbaijan has blockaded the Lachin corridor, which the region of Artsakh uses to import essential food and medical supplies from Armenia, since December 22, 2022. The Lachin corridor is Artsakh’s only road into Armenia. 

Until December of last year, Artsakh, a de facto independent region of ethnic Christian Armenians within the nation of Azerbaijan, received the majority of their goods from Armenia via the Lachin corridor route and did not allow aid to come in from Azerbaijan. 

Under the new agreement, Artsakh is forced to allow essential goods to come in via the International Committee of the Red Cross through the nation of Azerbaijan via a route called the Agdam Road for the first time in more than 30 years, rather than receiving their essentials directly from Armenia. In exchange, Azerbaijan agreed to partially lift its blockade of the Lachin corridor with a potential for Armenian passage. However, as of September 13, The Armenian Weekly reported that the Lachin corridor remained closed. 

 On Tuesday, September 12, the first shipments arrived in Stepanakert, Artsakh’s capital, bringing food, blankets, and other necessities to the deprived Armenians. 

The move to allow aid to come through or from Azerbaijan has long been resisted by the citizens of Artsakh as it is seen as relinquishing their autonomy, and thus independence, to Azerbaijan. 

The ongoing blockade of the corridor by Azerbaijani forces, who are backed by Turkey, has effectively cut off critical supplies to the native Artsakh population and brought about a medical and humanitarian crisis. In addition to preventing food and medical supplies into the Artsakh region, Azerbaijani forces have intermittently shut down the gas pipeline going into Artsakh, which has affected ambulance and medical services, as gasoline must be rationed, as well as heating services. 

While the recent agreement allows for much-needed supplies to reach starving Armenians, this crisis is, unfortunately, far from over. The cruel treatment of the citizens of Artsakh has gone largely unnoticed by the world’s population. Accounts of starvation, miscarriages due to a lack of medical attention, and data that reflect that 95% of Artsakh’s population is riddled with malnutrition continue to be reported. 

Azerbaijan ultimately stands accused of causing a potential genocide of Artsakh’s Christian Armenian population through starvation and inhumane treatment. 

The current crisis in the region is a direct result of Azerbaijan’s assault on Artsakh and has been condemned by former Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Luis Moreno Ocampo, and various lawmakers from the United States. Ocampo stated in August that Azerbaijan’s actions equate to genocide, and Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) asserted in a September press release that the situation is extremely urgent and must be confronted head-on by the Biden administration. Additionally, Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) spoke on the Senate floor Tuesday, declaring that Azerbaijan is engaging in the heinous act of ethnic cleansing of the Armenian population of Artsakh.  

Azerbaijan and Artsakh have a long history of conflict. Tensions between the two regions have boiled for decades. 

On September 27, 2020, a war broke out between Artsakh and Azerbaijan after Azerbaijani forces began a military strike against Artsakh. The war lasted for 44 days ending in Azerbaijani victory. 

As we approach the three-year mark of the beginning of the conflict, Azerbaijan continues to sow discord in the region by employing cruel and brutal treatment against the Artsakh citizens. 

ICC stands with Artsakh in condemning the actions of Azerbaijan and asks for prayer from our global Christian community for our brothers and sisters who are suffering under these egregious abuses. 

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