Thousands of ethnic Armenians are fleeing the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh following Azerbaijan’s 24-hour military operation last week which seized control of the disputed territory from Armenian separatist forces. One survivor said shelling by Azerbaijani forces on his village left dozens of civilians dead.
Petya Grigoryan: “We barely survived the last days. It was scary. There was shelling from all sides. There were dead bodies. I don’t know where they are now. Two refrigerated trucks filled with bodies to the top, and there’s no place to even bury them. … Out of 500 residents in my settlement, only 40 managed to get out. Everyone else stayed. They are at the airport and in the city, in different places. And they are waiting to be evacuated.”
Over the weekend, Armenia asked the U.N. for help monitoring the rights of ethnic Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh. Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said he needed guarantees from Azerbaijan that civilians would be protected.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan: “Unless real living conditions are created for the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh in their homes and effective mechanisms of protection from ethnic cleansing, then the likelihood that the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh will see exile from their homeland as the only way to preserve their lives and identity increases significantly.”
Meanwhile, protesters in Armenia continue to demand Prime Minister Pashinyan resign for failing to support Armenian separatists in Nagorno-Karabakh.