SVE NEWS & FRANCE24.COM Sharing Series — Moscow, Baku to decide future of Russian peacekeeping mission in Nagorno-Karabakh

The Kremlin said Monday that the future of its peacekeeping mission in Nagorno-Karabakh would be determined by Russia and Azerbaijan, which last week took control of the territory from Armenian separatists. File photo: A Russian peacekeeper guards the entrance to the Dadivank, an Armenian Apostolic Church monastery dating back to the 9th century, December 2, 2020.File photo: A Russian peacekeeper guards the entrance to the Dadivank, an Armenian Apostolic Church monastery dating back to the 9th century, December 2, 2020. © Emrah Gurel, AP (archives)

“Since the mission is now on Azerbaijani territory, this will be a subject of our discussion with the Azerbaijani side,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

Russia deployed nearly 2,000 forces to the mountainous region in 2020 as part of a ceasefire deal it brokered between Azerbaijan and Armenia that ended six weeks of brutal fighting for control of the territory.

Peskov’s statement came a day after Moscow said Armenians fleeing after Azerbaijani forces retook control of Nagorno-Karabakh had nothing to fear.

“It’s difficult to say who is to blame (for the exodus), there is no direct reason for such actions,” Peskov told reporters on Thursday.

“People are nevertheless expressing a desire to leave… those who made such a decision should be provided with normal living conditions,” he  added.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has warned of “ethnic cleansing” in the region and called for the international community to act.

Pashinyan had criticised the Russian peacekeeping force for failing to intervene when Azerbaijan launched its lightning offensive to regain control of the region.

Russia denied the accusations.

The exodus of ethnic Armenians from the enclave marks a fundamental shift in ethnic control of lands disputed by mostly Christian Armenians and predominantly Muslim Azerbaijanis for the past century.

UN refugee agency readying for up to 120,000 refugees in Armenia

The UN refugee agency on Friday said more than 88,000 people have crossed into Armenia from Nagorno-Karabakh and the total could reach 120,000, a figure matching estimates of the entire population of the breakaway region.

Kavita Belani, UNHCR representative in Armenia, told a UN press briefing by video link that huge crowds of tired and frightened people were gathering at registration centres.

“This is a situation where they’ve lived under nine months of blockade,” she said. “And when they come in, they’re full of anxiety, they’re scared, they’re frightened and they want answers.”

“We are ready to cope with up to 120,000 people. It’s very hard to predict how many will come at this juncture,” she added in response to a question about refugee numbers. Initial planning figures were for between 70-90,000 refugees but that needs updating, she added.

Read more‘I lost everything’: Displaced Nagorno-Karabakh residents arrive in Armenia

Nearly a third of the refugees are children, another UN official told the briefing.

“The major concern for us is that many of them have been separated from their family,” said Regina De Dominicis, UNICEF regional director.

International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies representative Hicham Diab said there was a massive need for mental health support for refugees.

“The situation often involves families arriving with children so weak that they have fainted in their parents’ arms,” he said.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP and Reuters)


Sources from: FRANCE24.COM

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