UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. Security Council scheduled an emergency meeting Wednesday in response to a call from Armenia saying the mainly Armenian-populated region of Nagorno-Karabakh in neighboring Azerbaijan is blockaded and 120,000 people are facing hunger and “a full-fledged humanitarian catastrophe.”
Armenia’s U.N. Ambassador Mher Margaryan asked for the meeting on the dire situation in Nagorno-Karabakh in a letter to the ambassador of the United States, which holds the Security Council presidency this month.
The U.S. Mission to the U.N. said Monday the emergency meeting will take place on Wednesday afternoon.
In his letter to Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Margaryan said Azerbaijan’s complete blockade since July 15 of the Lachin Corridor – the only road connecting Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia – has created severe shortages of food, medicine and fuel.
“The deliberate creation of unbearable life conditions for the population is nothing but an act of mass atrocity targeting the indigenous people of Nagorno-Karabakh and forcing them to leave their homeland,” he said, stressing that this constitutes “an existential threat to them.”
Margaryan asked the Security Council, which is charged with ensuring international peace and security, “to prevent mass atrocities including war crimes, ethnic cleansing, crimes against humanity and genocide.”
Nagorno-Karabakh came under the control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by the Armenian military in separatist fighting that ended in 1994. Armenian forces also took control of substantial territory around the Azerbaijani region.
Azerbaijan regained control of the surrounding territory in a six-week war with Armenia in 2020. A Russia-brokered armistice that ended the war left the region’s capital, Stepanakert, connected to Armenia only by the Lachin Corridor, along which Russian peacekeeping forces were supposed to ensure free movement.
Margaryan accused Azerbaijan of violating the Russian-brokered armistice and international humanitarian law as well as orders by the International Court of Justice in February and July. The U.N.’s highest court said in its orders that Azerbaijan should “take all measures to ensure unimpeded movement of persons, vehicles and cargo along the Lachin Corridor in both directors,” the Armenian ambassador said.
Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry has accused Armenia of violating its territorial integrity and sovereignty and of smuggling weapons into Nagorno-Karabakh.
Last week, the former chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court warned that Azerbaijan is preparing genocide against ethnic Armenians in its Nagorno-Karabakh region and called for the Security Council to bring the matter before the international tribunal.
Luis Moreno Ocampo said in a report requested by a group of Armenians, including the country’s president, that as a result of the blockade “there is a reasonable basis to believe that a genocide is being committed.”
He said the U.N. convention defines genocide as including “deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction.”