The World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC) supports the call by the World Council of Churches and Conference of European Churches to immediately lift the blockade of Nagorno-Karabakh and further urges the parties involved to seek a just peace for the region.
After increasingly restricting shipments through the Lachin Corridor over the last seven months, the Azerbaijani government completely closed the route from Armenia to Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) on 15 June, an act that has created a growing humanitarian crisis.
“Global politics, regional dynamics, and partisan alliances often keep certain crises in the dark and focus only on some. The current crisis of Artsakh needs immediate attention and resolution that moves beyond the opening of the blockaded lifeline into an establishment of justice and long-lasting peace,” said Paul Haidostian, acting president of the Union of Armenian Evangelical Churches in the Near East.
“The civilian population is now facing a lack of lifesaving medication and essentials like hygiene products and baby formula,” the International Committee of the Red Cross said in a 25 July statement. “Fruits, vegetables, and bread are increasingly scarce and costly, while some other food items such as dairy products, sunflower oil, cereal, fish, and chicken are not available.”
According to a report by Radio Free Europe, Azerbaijan and Armenia “have been locked in a dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh for years,” with the ethnic Armenian region sitting within the boundaries of Azerbaijan.
“Diplomatic efforts to settle the conflict brought little progress, and the two sides fought another war in 2020 that lasted six weeks before a Russian-brokered cease-fire, resulting in Armenia losing control over parts of the region and seven adjacent districts,” said Radio Free Europe’s report. “Under Armenian control, Nagorno-Karabakh’s only outlet to the outside world was the Lachin Corridor, which connected the territory to Armenia. As a result of the 2020 war, Azerbaijan retook the land surrounding the road, and the cease-fire agreement stipulated that Russian peacekeepers would control and protect the route.”
However, the Azerbaijani government has not held to the agreement and is instead using the closure of the route to increase pressure on the Armenian government and those in the territory to cede to its demands over control of Artsakh.
The WCRC condemns these tactics—using the health and lives of innocent people as political leverage—and calls on its members to advocate for the lifting of the blockade and sincere negotiations to secure a just and lasting peace.
Image: Paul Jeffrey/Life on Earth Pictures