Armenians Seek Refuge Following Azerbaijan's Offensive

Almost all Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh have left the region in a significant exodus following Azerbaijan's swift offensive and the subsequent surrender by Armenian separatists

by Faruk Imamovic
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Armenians Seek Refuge Following Azerbaijan's Offensive
© Getty Images News/Astrig Agopian

Almost all Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh have left the region in a significant exodus following Azerbaijan's swift offensive and the subsequent surrender by Armenian separatists. Nazeli Bagdasaryan, the press secretary for Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, disclosed that out of a population close to 120,000, a staggering 100,417 individuals had arrived in Armenia from Nagorno-Karabakh since Azerbaijan regained control of the territory just last week.

The bridge of Hakari, a significant link between Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh, saw a passage of 21,043 vehicles in the past week, according to the Bagdasaryan. With only a single winding mountainous route available to reach Armenia, many found themselves trapped in queues for days on end.

Uncertain Future for the Region

The fate of Nagorno-Karabakh remains clouded with uncertainty as it is unclear what Azerbaijan's future plans are for the enclave. So far, 80% of the Armenian population has vacated the area, internationally recognized as a part of Azerbaijani territory.

The separatist government announced last Thursday that it would dissolve all of its institutions by January 2024. Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan expressed that the mass exodus of Armenians represented a "direct act of ethnic cleansing and depriving people of their homeland." Contrarily, Azerbaijan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs vehemently refuted this characterization, stating that the mass migration was a "personal and individual decision" of the inhabitants and had "nothing to do with forced resettlement."

Decades of Distrust

The region has been a hotspot for tension and conflict for three decades.

Both Azerbaijan and the Armenian-backed separatists have frequently accused each other of attacks, massacres, and various atrocities. Such allegations have cultivated a pervasive atmosphere of suspicion and fear on both sides.

While Azerbaijan has pledged to respect the rights of Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh, most are fleeing the region. Their primary concerns revolve around a lack of trust that Azerbaijani authorities will treat them humanely and safeguard their language, faith, and culture.

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