Near Kornidzor, Armenia – Armenian fighters in the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh have initiated the process of surrendering their arms as humanitarian aid begins to reach the 120,000 Armenians residing there, who feel abandoned by the world following Azerbaijan’s military victory.
Nagorno-Karabakh, internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, was compelled to declare a ceasefire on September 20th after a swift 24-hour military operation by the substantially larger Azerbaijani military.
Russian peacekeepers, numbering around 2,000 in Karabakh, have overseen the transfer of weapons and military equipment from the armed groups of Karabakh. According to Russia’s defense ministry, six armored vehicles, over 800 firearms, and approximately 5,000 units of ammunition have been surrendered thus far.
Moreover, Russia has delivered over 50 tons of essential food and other aid to the region. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has contributed to these efforts by supplying 28,000 diapers, along with blankets and fuel. An ICRC aid convoy, the first since Azerbaijan reclaimed the region, reached the border en route to Karabakh.
The future of Karabakh, along with its 120,000 ethnic Armenian residents, now hangs in the balance. Azerbaijan seeks to integrate the long-disputed region, while ethnic Armenians express fears of persecution and accuse the world of abandoning them.
Armenians in Karabakh report a state of siege, marked by scarce food, electricity, and fuel. They appeal to major world powers for assistance. Azerbaijan has offered amnesty to Karabakh Armenian fighters who lay down their arms and has stated that Armenians are free to leave the region for Armenia if they so choose.
Armenia, which lost a war to Azerbaijan over the region in 2020, has created space for tens of thousands of Armenians from Karabakh. Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan emphasizes the importance of residents not leaving their homes unless absolutely necessary.
US Senator Gary Peters, leading a congressional delegation to the Armenia-Azerbaijan border, stressed the need for international observers and transparency from Azerbaijan. He expressed the urgency of sharing the situation with the world through international observers.
The conflict began with Azerbaijan’s “anti-terrorist” operation against Nagorno-Karabakh after Azerbaijani troops suffered casualties, which Baku attributed to attacks from the region. The United States has voiced deep concern over Azerbaijan’s military actions.
Accounts from the region depict a dire situation. Armenui Karapetyan, an Armenian from Karabakh, describes being left homeless, holding onto only a few belongings and a photograph of his late son. He reflects on the hardship faced by those forced out of their homes and the world’s perceived abandonment.
Thousands of Karabakh Armenians have sought refuge at the airport, seeking protection from Russian peacekeepers stationed there. Svetlana Alaverdyan from the village of Arajadzor narrates her escape with nothing but the clothes on her back, as the village was engulfed in gunfire.