By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
YEREVAN (Worthy News) – About 120,000 Armenian Christians are trapped inside the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, including women, children, and the disabled, Christian aid workers told Worthy News Friday.
Armenia’s government urged Russian peacekeepers to end a month-long Azeri blockade of the only road linking Armenia to Nagorno-Karabakh.
The latest tensions over de predominantly ethnic Armenian enclave, which is internationally recognized as part of neighboring Azerbaijan, came after Azerbaijan said time was running out for a lasting peace deal.
Moscow and Yerevan have a mutual defense pact, but Russia also strives for good relations with Armenia’s arch-foe Azerbaijan.
And Russia, already facing battlefield losses after it invaded Ukraine, seemed reluctant Friday to intervene.
The blockade of the mountainous road, known as the Lachin corridor, is being led by a group of Azeris identifying themselves as environmental activists.
Armenia claims the group comprises agitators backed by Azerbaijan’s government bent on fueling tensions.
Azerbaijan says they are eco-activists protesting against Armenian mining activity and that humanitarian traffic can pass freely along the road.
Christian aid workers, as well as Armenian and Nagorno-Karabakh officials, have warned of a humanitarian crisis in the blockaded region.
“The ongoing blockade of Nagorno-Karabakh has left Armenian Christians desperately short of food,” confirmed the Barnabas Aid charity working in the region to Worthy News.
“Rarely reported by the international media, the growing humanitarian crisis inside Nagorno-Karabakh is now very serious,” Barnabas Aid stressed. “The Red Cross can get some medicines in, and [natural] gas is flowing in the pipelines to provide fuel to homes. But there is a severe food shortage,” the Christian charity added.
Though there were no immediate reports of gunfire on Friday, the war continues, according to residents.
They refer to the empty shops of today and a brief war in 2020 when Azerbaijan seized vast swathes of land in Nagorno-Karabakh.
“Harassment and threats have continued against the Armenian Christian inhabitants of the enclave ever since,” noted Barnabas Aid representatives.
Barnabas Aid said it had launched a campaign for donations after a senior Armenian Church leader wrote: “I appeal to Barnabas Aid to extend a helping hand and support our Christian brethren and sisters in Nagorno-Karabakh who desperately need food, medicine, and other commodities.”
The church leader wasn’t identified amid ongoing security concerns in the volatile region.
There were concerns Friday that the standoff will lead to renewed clashes between predominantly Christian Armenia and mainly Muslim Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh.
Armenia’s prime minister expressed concern this week about the perceived failure of Russian peacekeepers to take a more active role around Nagorno-Karabakh.
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan was quoted as saying by Russia’s TASS news agency: “We do not criticize Russian peacekeepers. But we do express concern about their activities, and this concern has long-standing roots.”
As tensions rise, Barnabas Aid urged supporters to also pray for Armenian Christians facing an increasingly harsh winter season.
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