The International Court of Justice has ordered Azerbaijan to end the more than two-month blockade of the Lachin Corridor connecting Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia, essentially keeping 120,000 from accessing food, medicine and other essentials.
Under last Thursday’s binding order of the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, Azerbaijan must take all measures within its power to ensure the unimpeded movement of people, vehicles and cargo in both directions along the Lachin Corridor under its obligations to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
"The Court observes that, since 12 December 2022, the connection between Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia via the Lachin Corridor has been disrupted. The Court notes that a number of consequences have resulted from this situation and that the impact on those affected persists to this date," an official summary of the order states.
"The information available to the Court indicates that the disruption on the Lachin Corridor has impeded the transfer of persons of Armenian national or ethnic origin hospitalized in Nagorno-Karabakh to medical facilities in Armenia for urgent medical care. The evidence also indicates that there have been hindrances to the importation into Nagorno-Karabakh of essential goods, causing shortages of food, medicine and other life-saving medical supplies."
The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is a long-standing dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh region. The region is recognized internationally as part of Muslim-majority Azerbaijan even though it has a majority Armenian population and is controlled by ethnic Armenians as the unrecognized Republic of Artsakh, a de facto independent state not recognized by the United Nations.
Armenian Christians living in Nagorno-Karabakh (known to Armenians as Artsakh) are facing dire conditions due to the blockade that’s preventing much-needed food, medicine, and other resources from reaching the region.
The blockade has been in place for more than two months, with Azerbaijani protestors blocking the only road into the landlocked territory.
Despite the ruling, an independent news blog that reports on military developments in the region, Nagorno Karabakh Observer, tweeted Sunday that the blockade was still in place.
The state-run Artsakh InfoCenter also wrote on Facebook that “The information circulating in social networks, according to which the only road connecting Artsakh with Armenia has been opened, is false."
"The only way connecting Artsakh to Armenia has been blocked by Azerbaijan for 78 days," the Artsakh InfoCenter stated in a post Monday.
Baroness Caroline Cox, a prominent member of the U.K.’s House of Lords, expressed her concern over the situation last week.
“The situation is now very, very serious. Indeed, it has been said by people, it may indeed be an impending genocide,” she told CBN News.
With Armenians suffering from a shortage of food and medicine, patients in urgent need of medical attention are being hampered.
“The shortage of medicines is very, very serious, especially medicines like insulin for people with diabetes, and the transfer of patients from Karabakh into Armenia needing urgent medical treatment, that has been very, very much stymied,” Cox stated. “One has already died, so it is a very dire situation indeed.”
The potential destruction of Christian churches, historic landmarks and entire cultures is also a concern.
"This could be another stage of genocide, destruction of Christian people, destruction of Christian heritage. And we need to pray," she said.
Gayane Beglarian, whose 4-year-old daughter suffers from liver cancer, recently told CBN News that the family was frightened and worried about her child missing life-saving treatment.
But after weeks of anxiously waiting, the Red Cross helped the family exit. Gayane emphasized that other ailing residents also need help.
“We have no necessary equipment; we have no doctors who can come there and have necessary treatment," she said.
In a letter to U.S. President Joe Biden last month, John Eibner, the president of Christian Solidarity International, and Baroness Cox urged the United States to take action.
The letter called for a resolution at the United Nations Security Council that would authorize a humanitarian airlift into the region if Azerbaijan does not comply.
“You are the first American president to recognize the Armenian Genocide,” Eibner and Baroness Cox wrote. “We urge you not to allow another Armenian Genocide to occur on your watch.”
CSI, a Christian human rights organization that promotes religious liberty and human dignity, said it’s all part of an “ongoing” genocide.
“A process of genocide has been underway since the Ottoman massacres of Armenians in the late 19th century,” Eibner told The Christian Post at the time.
“What is generally called the Armenian Genocide (1915-'18) was, in fact, a broader genocide of Christians, including the Syriacs/Assyrians/Aramaeans. It was the high point of a process that continues in waves until the present day,” the CSI president said.
“It continued in the Caucasus after the end of the First World War and was only suspended by the imposition of Soviet rule. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the process resumed in the first Karabakh war, again two years ago in the second Karabakh war and now in the strangulation of Karabakh by means of blockade.”
The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has its roots in the early 20th century when the region, which has a majority Armenian population, was part of the Russian Empire and later, the Soviet Union.
In the 1920s, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin established the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast within Soviet Azerbaijan. As the Soviet Union began to collapse in the late 1980s, ethnic Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh voted to secede from Azerbaijan and join Armenia. This led to a war between the two countries that lasted from 1988 to 1994, resulting in the deaths of tens of thousands of people and the displacement of over 1 million. A ceasefire was signed in 1994, but sporadic violence continued in the region.
In 2016, a four-day war broke out between Armenia and Azerbaijan, resulting in hundreds of deaths. In September 2020, the fighting broke out again, escalated rapidly and resulted in a large-scale military operation by Azerbaijan, with the support of Turkey, to retake the regions of Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding areas under Armenian control.
A ceasefire was signed again in November 2020, but tensions remain high, with both sides accusing each other of ceasefire violations and the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh remaining tense.