Friday, June 14, 2024
Friday, June 14, 2024
Home » Medical Convoys From Nagorno-Karabakh Suspended After Armenian Detained by Azerbaijan

Medical Convoys From Nagorno-Karabakh Suspended After Armenian Detained by Azerbaijan

by Gaioz Arabidze
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The transfer of critically ill patients from Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia has been halted, local Armenian leaders said, after a man traveling with the Red Cross to seek treatment was arrested by Azerbaijani forces on war crimes charges.

Gurgen Nersisyan, the state minister of the breakaway region’s unrecognized government, announced on Saturday that Vagif Khachatryan was “taken from the checkpoint” installed by Baku on the border with Armenia and that his whereabouts are unknown. Speaking to POLITICO, one of his advisers, Artak Beglaryan, confirmed that all medical evacuations have been stopped indefinitely as a result.

In a statement shared with state media, Azerbaijan’s prosecutor’s office confirmed Khachatryan had been detained, adding that he stands accused of committing “genocide.” Officials allege he was involved in the killing of 25 people in the village of Meshali during the first Nagorno-Karabakh war in 1991, which saw hundreds of thousands of ethnic Azerbaijanis forced to flee their homes in the breakaway region.

Inside Azerbaijan’s internationally recognized borders, Nagorno-Karabakh has been de facto controlled by its ethnic Armenian population since then, with a brief but bloody conflict in 2020 leaving the Lachin Corridor as the only road in or out. Under the terms of a cease-fire agreement, the highway was to be guarded by Russian peacekeepers, but Moscow’s troops have been all but missing in action in recent months, while Azerbaijan has moved to restrict access to the region.

The Red Cross did not immediately respond to a query from POLITICO. The Swiss-based aid organization issued a statement on Tuesday in which it said it was being prevented from bringing supplies into the region and warned that, without access to food and medicine, “the humanitarian situation will further deteriorate.”

The EU, the U.S., the U.K. and a host of other countries have called on Azerbaijan to reopen the Lachin Corridor to civilian traffic and uphold a ruling from the International Court of Justice that said Baku must “ensure movement” along the highway.

However, Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry has accused foreign nations of bias and “blatant misinterpretation” of the court’s decision. It insists it is open to supplying Nagorno-Karabakh from inside the country — a suggestion local Armenian leaders have ruled out.


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