Mass Evacuation Of Karabakh Armenians ‘Complete’

 Vehicles carrying refugees from Nagorno-Karabakh queue on the road leading towards the Armenian border, September 25, 2023.

Okt 02, 2023. Posted by  Balkan Periscope - Hellas


 The mass evacuation of Nagorno-Karabakh’s ethnic Armenian population has been practically completed, outgoing authorities in Stepanakert indicated late on Sunday after at least 100,000 local residents fled to Armenia, refusing to live under Azerbaijani rule.

“The last bus from Artsakh reached [the Armenian border town of] Goris with 15 passengers on board,” Karabakh’s human rights ombudsman, Gegham Stepanian, wrote on Facebook.

He said that a “small team of dedicated people” will stay in Karabakh for now to look for “helpless” civilians who may be stuck in their homes and unable to join the exodus on their own.

“If you still have clear information about lonely or helpless people left behind in Artsakh, you should contact the International Committee of the Red Cross or provide us with relevant information to be forwarded to the ICRC,” added Stepanian.

A separate Karabakh government statement issued around the same time said Samvel Shahramanian, the Karabakh president, and a “group of other officials” will stay in Stepanakert until the ongoing search for people do died or went missing as a result of last week’s hostilities and powerful explosion at a local fuel depot is over. They will also help people remaining in Karabakh “for various reasons” and keen to relocate to Armenia, said the statement.

The Armenian government reported, meanwhile, that 100,514 “forcibly displaced” Karabakh residents have entered Armenia since the start of the exodus resulting from Azerbaijan’s September 19-20 military offensive that paved the way for the restoration of Baku’s full control over the territory.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian predicted on Thursday that “there will be no Armenians left in Nagorno-Karabakh in the coming days.” He accused Azerbaijan of practically finishing “ethnic cleansing” there. Baku rejected the accusations, saying that it still hopes to "reintegrate" the Karabakh Armenians.


Armenia - Karabakh refugees wait in a square of Goris on September 29, 2023 before being evacuated in various Armenian cities.

Artak Beglarian, a former Karabakh premier, said late on Saturday that the region is already “almost fully empty, with at most a few hundred people remaining, who are also leaving.”

Karabakh’s population officially stood at around 120,000 prior to the exodus. The figure included thousands of people who were unable to return from Armenia to Stepanakert and other Karabakh towns and villages after Baku blocked traffic through the Lachin corridor last December.

Earlier on Sunday, Azerbaijan’s prosecutor-general said that Baku wants to arrest and prosecute about 300 current or former political and military leaders of Karabakh. They apparently include three former Karabakh presidents. A Karabakh official told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service on Friday that Shahramanian is trying to convince Azerbaijani authorities to let them as well as other prominent Karabakh Armenians leave the region.

Karabakh’s former premier Ruben Vardanyan, former Foreign Minister Davit Babayan, former army commander Levon Mnatsakanian and his ex-deputy Davit Manukian were arrested in recent days while travelling to Armenia through the Lachin corridor.