Azerbaijan's blockade of Nagorno-Karabakh claims first starvation victim - distressing images

Azerbaijan blockade of Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh)

Azerbaijan's 8-month-long blockade of the historically and ethnically Armenian region of Nagorno-Karabakh has sadly claimed its first starvation victim.

According to the Human Rights Defender's Office and the research conducted by its Staff, a resident of Stepanakert, K. Hovhannisyan, born in 1983, died due to chronic malnutrition, protein and energy deficiency.

"The catastrophic consequences of the ongoing 8-month-long blockade of Nagorno-Karabakh by Azerbaijan are more than noticeable in the public health sector, which primarily affects the health situation of the most vulnerable groups of the society – children, pregnant women, people with chronic diseases, people with disabilities and older persons," the Artsakh / Nagorno-Karabakh Human Rights Ombudsman wrote in a social media post.

"The catastrophic food situation caused by the blockade and especially the 2-month-long complete siege, leading to the malnutrition of people and the threat of hunger, the lack of necessary medicines and the inability of the full functioning of the healthcare system create direct and undeniable threats to 120,000 population of Artsakh," the Ombudsman statement added.

Warning: Distressing images

The U.N. Security Council scheduled an emergency meeting Wednesday in response to a call from Armenia saying the mainly Armenian-populated region is blockaded and 120,000 people are facing hunger and “a full-fledged humanitarian catastrophe," AP reported.

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 open 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.”

He 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.

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.”

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