Since the early morning of September 27, 2020, around 07:10 AM, Azerbaijani armed forces have launched a large-scale armed attack against the Republic of Artsakh (NagornoKarabakh). The Azerbaijani armed forces have inclusively targeted civilian residential areas, including the capital city of Artsakh - Stepanakert. Targetings of civilian objects have been deliberate and indiscriminate – strikes on communities have been recorded from the very first day of the offense. The attacks by the Azerbaijani armed forces on civilian households have put life and health of children, women, the elderly and the entire peaceful civilian population, as well as their property, schools and other civilian objects in real danger. Moreover, these assaults have not been tempered relative to other targets and have included the full use of air force, missiles, artillery, attack UAVs and even internationally prohibited weapons and methods.  

Since 27 September, at least 50 civilians were killed, including 1 child, and at least 163 civilians, including 9 children, were wounded, as a result of the Azerbaijani missile strikes, shelling and UAV (including Turkish “Bayraktar”) attacks in different cities and villages of Artsakh, including capital Stepanakert, towns of Shushi, Hadrut, Martuni, Martakert, Askeran, Karvajar, Berdzor, villages of Taghaser, Vardashat, Spitakshen, Maghavus, NerkinHoratagh, Alashan, Mataghis. 

The targeting of the civilian population and of the civilian objects took place since the beginning of the Azerbaijani offensive not only alongside the line of contact but also in towns and villages about 90-100 km deep in the rear.  

The employment of high-precision weapons against civilians strongly indicates the intentional nature of such attacks. For instance, a high-precision Israeli UAV “Harop” targeted a civilian person and a house in Hadrut on September 27. Similarly, missiles, including ballistic missiles targeted the civilian population and houses in capital Stepanakert and other cities, whereas there were no military objects in the vicinity of relevant areas. 

Survivors and families in the affected areas have been forced to flee their homes fearing for their lives. The immediately-apparent human toll of this aggression has prompted the Human Rights Ombudsman to launch an urgent investigation, including monitoring and fact-finding procedures.

Given the special importance of protecting and promoting Children’s Rights in all circumstances, and even more so in crisis situations, the Human Rights Defender of Artsakh deems it necessary to introduce the results of the investigations regarding the impact of the ongoing military action by Azerbaijan on the livelihood of children in Artsakh, calling the attention of UN, UNICEF, UNESCO, UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, CoE Commissioner for Human Rights and other international stakeholders to respond to the current situation in prevention of further gross violations of the Rights of Children of Artsakh.