Children of Artsakh in Azerbaijani Blockade: Inflicting Sufferings by Ethnic Cleansing (Evidence-Based Analysis)

Publication Date 28.02.2023

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Since December 12, 2022, at around 10:30 am (GMT+4), a group of Azerbaijanis in civilian clothes, presenting themselves as alleged “environmental activists” blocked the only road, Goris – Stepanakert Highway, which passes through the Lachin (Berdzor) corridor connecting Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) with Armenia and the outside world. The so-called “eco-protest” with the documented participation of the Azerbaijani state- sponsored special services agents is proved to be fully orchestrated by the Azerbaijani government. As a result, the ongoing blockade has brought to the physical obstruction of the sole road of life of Artsakh, leaving its entire population in a state of total isolation, facing massive violations of fundamental human rights, as well as multifaceted existential and security threats. Thus, for almost 3 months, 120,000 people, including 30,000 children, have found themselves in a complete blockade with no access to basic necessities, essential goods, services, medication, foodstuffs, fuel, and, most importantly, with no right to move in and out of Artsakh freely.

Along with the ongoing blockage of the Lachin corridor, Azerbaijan has also deliberately disrupted the operation of the most critical infrastructure of Artsakh with the aim to further aggravate the already dire humanitarian crisis and cause excessive human sufferings to the Artsakh population. Throughout the blockade, the sole gas pipeline (since December 13, 2022), the main high-voltage electricity line (since January 9, 2023) and the sole fiber-optic cable (since January 12, 2023) supplying Internet connection from Armenia to Artsakh have being intentionally and numerously damaged by Azerbaijan, which continues to deny access to the accident sites to Artsakh representatives in order to conduct repair work. Since the start of the blockade, Azerbaijan has disrupted the supply of the natural gas from Armenia to Artsakh for 10 times, while 27 incidents of the pipeline’s gas volume disruptions by the Azerbaijani side have been recorded. As we have earlier witnessed similar acts of Artsakh’s infrastructure targeting by the Azerbaijani side (February-March 2022), the disruption of the critical infrastructure of Artsakh by Azerbaijan has become an integral part of its ethnic cleansing policy directed at the peaceful civilian population of Artsakh, which immediately affects the most vulnerable groups of the society, particularly children.

The criminal act of Artsakh’s blockade by Azerbaijan has substantially affected the normal life support of the children of Artsakh. Due to the absence of proper conditions for heating in cold winter weather, absence of necessities for cooking hot meals, lack of nutritious food supplies for organising school feeding, the educational process in Artsakh has been paralyzed, as all the educational institutions of Artsakh had to suspend their activities until further notice. As a result, the fundamental right to education of 20,000 children of Artsakh is being grossly violated by the criminal policy of Azerbaijan. Moreover, due to the continuous disruption of the critical infrastructure of Artsakh, the medical and social institutions of Artsakh are unable to provide primary care to children in a proper manner, which negatively affects their wellbeing and mental state. Coupled with the general shortage of nutritious food supplies in Artsakh, the public health of the entire population is under serious threat, primarily endangering children’s health.

Amidst the rapidly unfolding humanitarian crisis in Artsakh, Azerbaijan uses all possible leverages and ways to terrorise and intimidate the peaceful civilian population of Artsakh already under blockade, including children, inflicting further suffering on them, with the aim of their total destruction and eviction from their native land – the end goal of the decades-long systematic and consistent policy of Armenophobia, ethnic cleansing and genocide led by Azerbaijan.

The following report aims at presenting the most pressing effects and consequences of the ongoing Azerbaijani blockade of Artsakh on its children’s fundamental rights, inter alia, the right to proper healthcare, the right to family reunification, the right to freedom of movement, the right to proper nutrition and the right to education.

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