VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has expressed serious concern about the continuing Azerbaijani blockade of Nagorno-Karabakh’s land link with Armenia that has led to a serious humanitarian crisis in the Armenian-populated region.

“I renew my appeal regarding the serious humanitarian situation in the Lachin Corridor, in the South Caucasus,” Francis told the Roman Catholic Church faithful who gathered at the Vatican’s St. Peter’s Square on Sunday.

“I am near to all those who, in the dead of winter, are forced to cope with these inhumane conditions,” he said in a clear reference to Karabakh’s population struggling with shortages of food, energy and medicine for about two months. “Every effort must be made on the international level to find peaceful solutions for the good of the people.”

The United States, the European Union and Russia, have also urged Azerbaijan to reopen the corridor.

The Karabakh premier, Ruben Vardanyan, called at the weekend for stronger international pressure on the Azerbaijani government. In an interview with French television, Vardanyan suggested that the U.S., Russia and France work together to have the blockade lifted. He said that the three world powers, which have long co-headed the OSCE Minsk Group, still have similar positions on the Karabakh conflict.

The Lachin Corridor – Nagorno-Karabakh’s land link with Armenia, has been blocked by Azerbaijan since mid-December.

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