Thousands of Armenians trapped in Nagorno-Karabakh face humanitarian crisis

© Ani Balayan, AFP

The Lachin corridor, the lifeline road connecting the self-proclaimed republic of Nagorno-Karabakh with Armenia, has been blocked by Azerbaijiani protesters since December 12, trapping its 120,000 Armenian residents in an increasingly precarious situation. FRANCE 24’s Armenia correspondent Taline Oundjian reports.

For the past 40 days, Azerbaijani protesters wielding placards and flags have blocked the Lachin corridor, a 32-kilometre mountainous road that connects Armenia with the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh in the South Caucasus.

Day and night, Azerbaijiani protesters demonstrate against the exploitation of natural resources in the region, blocking access to Nagorno-Karabakh and cutting off food, medicine and supplies for its 120,000 Armenian residents.

The tiny, mountainous enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh became a self-proclaimed and independent republic during the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. It is internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan but its population is predominantly Armenian.

The blockade risks scuppering the fragile peace process between the two countries, which have fought two wars in the past three decades.

Armenia accuses Azerbaijan of being behind the protests, saying the demonstrators are government agitators and that they are sparking an unprecedented humanitarian crisis. But Baku has denied the accusations, saying that Russian peacekeepers closed the road, and that the protesters are concerned about illegal Armenian mining in the area.

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