Why are 120,000 people leaving Nagorno-Karabakh?

9 個月前

STORY: Thousands of ethnic Armenians were seen fleeing the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh on Monday (September 25).

Many are queuing up on the road to Armenia after their decades-old separatist state was defeated by Azerbaijan in a lightning military operation.

So why are these people leaving?

The leadership of the breakaway region says 120,000 ethnic Armenians will leave Nagorno-Karabakh as they do not want to live as part of Azerbaijan.

Baku says it will guarantee their rights and integrate the region.

But the Armenians say they fear repression - and ethnic cleansing. Azerbaijan has denied any such intentions.

In the First Karabakh War between 1988 and 1994, about 30,000 people were killed and more than a million people displaced.

If all 120,000 ethnic Armenians go down the Lachin corridor to Armenia, the small country could face a humanitarian crisis.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said on Friday (September 22) that space had been allocated for at least 40,000 people.

With winter approaching, it was not immediately clear where 120,000 people could be housed in Armenia, whose population is just 2.8 million.

The International Committee of the Red Cross says it has started registering people looking for unaccompanied children or who have lost contact with loved ones.

For Azerbaijan, the exit of Armenians from Karabakh is a major victory.

It brings an apparent close to many years of war and squabbling over the region.

President Ilham Aliyev said his iron fist had consigned the idea of an independent ethnic Armenian Karabakh to history.

And claims and that the region will become a "paradise" as part of Azerbaijan.

The mass exodus could change the delicate balance of power in the South Caucasus region.

It is an area with a patchwork of ethnicities crisscrossed with oil and gas pipelines.

Russia, the United States, Turkey and Iran are all fighting for influence.

Russia has a military base in Armenia and regards itself as the prime security guarantor in the region.

But Armenia's Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has said the crisis showed that his country could not rely on Russia to defend its interests.

Pashinyan said that unidentified forces were seeking to stoke a coup against him.

He has accused Russian media of fighting an information war against him.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said on Monday that Russia considers Armenia its ally.

But rejects Yerevan's attempts to blame Moscow for the crisis.

This month, Armenia hosted a joint army exercise with the United States, which has criticized Azerbaijan's military operation.

Turkey, a NATO member, supports Azerbaijan.