Azerbaijan allowed the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to ship two truckloads of humanitarian aid to Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) through the Lachin corridor and Azerbaijani-controlled territory on Monday after Karabakh’s leadership agreed to the simultaneous functioning of the two routes.
Baku has made renewed relief supplies through the corridor conditional on the opening of a road leading to Karabakh from the Azerbaijani town of Aghdam. The authorities in Stepanakert rejected this precondition until now, saying that it is a ploy designed to legitimize the Azerbaijani blockade and facilitate the restoration of Azerbaijani control over Karabakh.
Citing the worsening humanitarian “disaster” in the Armenian-populated territory, the authorities announced on Sunday that they have decided to accept the compromise solution which they say was jointly proposed by the ICRC and the commanders of the Russian peacekeeping contingent in Karabakh. A Karabakh government statement argued, in particular, that they increasingly have trouble providing Stepanakert residents even with a daily ration of bread set at 200 grams per person.
The shortages of bread, other foodstuffs and other essential items there have worsened significantly since Baku completely blocked their supplies from Armenia in mid-June.
The Karabakh authorities said on Monday that one of the ICRC trucks delivered 23 tons of Armenian wheat flour through Lachin. They said the other truck, which entered Karabakh from Aghdam, carried “medical and hygiene supplies” manufactured in Russia and Switzerland. The authorities are checking the “origin and quality” of those items, according to another statement released later in the day.
They seemed anxious to bar any Azerbaijani government aid. Earlier this month, the Azerbaijani government tried unsuccessfully to send 40 tons of flour to Karabakh, with scores of Karabakh Armenians blocking a road leading to Aghdam.
Meanwhile, the ICRC welcomed a “humanitarian consensus between the decision-makers” that allowed it to carry out the shipments.
“I hope that this consensus allows for our strictly humanitarian convoys to resume not just today but in the weeks to come so that we can regularly get aid to those who need it,” said Ariane Bauer, the ICRC’s regional director for Europe and Central Asia
The Russian Foreign Ministry reported an agreement on the “parallel unblocking of the Lachin and Aghdam routes” on September 12. Such an arrangement is also backed by the United States and the European Union.
“Humanitarian supplies are finally underway to Karabakh Armenians … This must be now regularized,” the EU’s top official, Charles Michel, said on the X social media platform formerly known as Twitter.
There were still no indications that the Azerbaijani side will allow the Armenian government or other donors to also send badly needed aid to Karabakh. A convoy of 19 Armenian trucks carrying 360 tons of food for Karabakh residents has been stuck at the entrance to the Lachin corridor since the end of July.