EU Pledges More Aid Following Nagorno-Karabakh Explosion, as Thousands Flee
An explosion at a fuel depot in Nagorno-Karabakh on September 25 resulted in a significant human catastrophe. The blast reportedly occurred at a makeshift gas station being used by ethnic Armenian refugees to refuel their vehicles in an attempt to flee the disputed enclave. The explosion led to the death of at least 125 people, with dozens more in a critical condition, suffering from severe burns and in urgent need of evacuation.
Mass Exodus from Nagorno-Karabakh
Following a successful military offensive by Azerbaijan, thousands of ethnic Armenians have been leaving the enclave. The offensive defeated local Armenian authorities and restored Azerbaijan’s rule over the region, causing fear and uncertainty amongst the inhabitants. The Armenian government reported that more than 28,000 people have crossed from Nagorno-Karabakh into Armenia since Sunday, representing almost a quarter of the 120,000 Armenians that local officials claim live in Nagorno-Karabakh. Nagorno-Karabakh has been at the center of a decades-long conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, with control of the region changing hands multiple times.
In light of the tragedy, the European Union (EU) has pledged to extend further assistance. The announcement was made by Josep Borrell, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. Expressing sympathy for the victims of the explosion and their families, Borrell stressed the immediate need for unrestricted international humanitarian access to the region. The EU is prepared to extend further assistance beyond what has already been announced. The specific details of the additional assistance from the EU were not provided.
International Concern and Assistance
Western countries, including the United States, France, and Germany, have expressed concern for Nagorno-Karabakh’s Armenian population and warned Azerbaijan that it bears responsibility for their rights and security. Samantha Power, the administrator of USAID, visited the checkpoint at Armenia’s border with Nagorno-Karabakh, where refugees have been arriving. She called for international monitors and aid groups to be given access to the enclave and for Azerbaijan to facilitate the evacuation of injured civilians. The U.S. has announced $11.5 million in humanitarian assistance, which includes everything from food to psychiatric support.
The conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh dates back to the collapse of the Soviet Union. The region, while internationally recognized as Azerbaijan’s territory, was controlled by ethnic Armenian separatists backed by Armenia. In 2020, a full-scale war resulted in a decisive defeat for Armenia, forcing it to largely abandon its claims to Nagorno-Karabakh. Russia brokered a truce and dispatched a peacekeeping force there, which remains deployed. However, there are fears that the recent military offensive by Azerbaijan and the subsequent mass exodus of ethnic Armenians could further destabilize the region and lead to more violence and human rights abuses.
Subscribe to BNN Breaking
Sign up for our daily newsletter covering global breaking news around the world.