Goris (Armenia) (AFP) – Yerevan reported on Tuesday that at least 13,000 people had fled from Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia, about a week after a lightning attack led by Azerbaijan in this separatist region in the Caucasus, which is inhabited by a majority of Armenians.
Published on: 09/26/2023 – 10:53 Last updated: 09/26/2023 – 10:51
On Monday evening, a fuel depot exploded in the enclave amid a mass exodus, killing at least 20 people and wounding 280 others, the separatist authorities announced on Tuesday, calling for urgent foreign assistance to deal with this disaster.
“Dozens of wounded are still in critical condition,” she said in a statement, explaining that the injured suffering from burns of varying severity were transferred to the hospital in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Twenty people died, thirteen of whom were unidentified. The bodies of the unknown victims will be subjected to forensic analysis, according to the same source.
Arriving by car or bus, thousands of Nagorno-Karabakh residents found refuge in Armenia. The Armenian government announced on Tuesday that it had received more than 13,000 people, while hundreds of vehicles were still heading towards this country, according to an Agence France-Presse team.
These civilians are fleeing Nagorno-Karabakh, despite the promise repeated by Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev on Monday, that the rights of Armenians in this enclave occupied by his army will be “guaranteed.”
He was speaking alongside his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who plays a major role in this part of the Caucasus, a few days after the victory of Azerbaijani soldiers over separatist forces in Nagorno-Karabakh, which is inhabited by a majority of Armenians and which the Soviet authorities annexed to Azerbaijan in 1921.
The European Union is scheduled to receive, on Tuesday in Brussels, senior representatives of Armenia and Azerbaijan, two former Soviet republics that faced off militarily in Nagorno-Karabakh in the period from 1988 to 1994 (30,000 dead) and in the fall of 2020 (6,500 dead).
Simon Mordo, principal diplomatic advisor to European Council President Charles Michel, will chair this meeting in Brussels. Azerbaijan and Armenia, as well as France and Germany, will be represented by their national security advisers. The European Union’s Special Representative for the South Caucasus, Estonian diplomat Toivo Klar, is also participating.
For their part, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev will meet on October 5 in Granada, Spain, with the participation of French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and European Council President Charles Michel, a meeting that has been planned for a long time and has not been cancelled. .
The continuing influx of refugees
Meanwhile, the flow of refugees from Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenian territory continued, with huge traffic jams reported on the only road linking the region’s “capital” Stepanakert to Armenia.
Azerbaijan pledged to allow separatists who surrender their weapons to go to Armenia.
Many fear that Armenians will flee en masse from Nagorno-Karabakh, as Azerbaijani forces tighten their grip, while the humanitarian situation remains very difficult.
In front of the Goris Theater in the Armenian region of Syunik, white minibuses keep arriving. Some leave with their luggage towards Yerevan and the major cities of the country.
On Sunday evening, the influx of refugees began to this city, which has a population of about twenty thousand people, and which is the first stop for those fleeing Nagorno-Karabakh. After passing through the Kornidzor point just beyond the border, those who “have nowhere to go,” like Valentina Asaryan, are brought here.
Valentina, whose brother-in-law was killed in operations last week, said, hugging her grandson, “Who would have thought that the Turks (the common name for Azerbaijanis in the region) would enter this historic Armenian village.”
Last week, Pashinyan announced that his country, with a population of 2.9 million people, is preparing to receive 40,000 refugees.
On Monday, Russia, which considers the Caucasus to be an area of influence and deployed a peacekeeping force in Nagoni Karabakh three years ago after a short attack launched by Azerbaijan, rejected the criticism leveled by Pashinyan, accusing it of abandoning its ally.
© 2023 AFP
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