Delivering a briefing on the latest situation there, the Director of Operations and Advocacy for humanitarian affairs coordination office, OCHA, made clear that the UN was unable to independently verify information on the movement of people and goods along the corridor “or on the well-being of civilians in the areas where Russian peacekeepers have been deployed.”
Edem Wosornu said that OCHA was aware of ongoing reports of food and medicine shortages, and disruption to energy supplies which are needed to keep critical services such as health and water facilities operational.
According to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which is the only international humanitarian organisation with access to the region in the South Caucasus, it has not been possible to transport humanitarian assistance through the corridor “or any other route”, for several weeks, the OCHA official said.
Conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the region has persisted for more than three decades, but a ceasefire was agreed following around six weeks of fighting, by the President of Azerbaijan and Prime Minister of Armenia, and Russia’s President, in November 2020, leading to the deployment of several thousand Russian peacekeepers.
Ms. Wosornu said that although medical evacuations were continuing, the ICRC had not been able to bring any medical items into the area since 7 July, with food deliveries stopping on 14 June.
“International Humanitarian Law is very clear: parties must allow and facilitate the rapid and unimpeded passage of humanitarian relief for all civilians in need”, she told ambassadors.
Freedom of movement
“They must ensure that humanitarian relief personnel have the freedom of movement required for their functions. What matters is that passage is as rapid as possible under the circumstances.”
She said the ICRC was doing all it could, but “as a single organisation it can only cover the most urgent needs”, calling for other “impartial humanitarian relief” to be allowed into the region by the parties.
She added that a “sustainable solution for safe and regular transit of people and goods must be found.”
‘Intensify efforts’ towards normalization
Ms. Wosornu referenced the deep concern over freedom of movement along the corridor expressed by UN Secretary-General António Guterres in a statement on 2 August this year, where he recalled the need for Orders from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) regarding unimpeded movement “in both directions”, to be implemented.
In that statement, Mr. Guterres urged “both parties to intensify efforts towards the long-term normalization of relations for the benefit of peace and security in the region.”