STEPANALERT — In a statement issued today Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) president Arayik Harutyunyan condemned Azerbaijan for illegal blockade of the region saying it contradicts all norms of international law and the commitments undertaken by Azerbaijan.

Harutyunyan stated that the blockade, based on Azerbaijan’s state policy of racial hatred towards Armenians is comprehensive in nature depriving 120,000 Artsakh people of natural access to food, energy, health care and other vital goods and services and, ‘therefore, constitutes a serious, deliberate and massive infringement upon the lives and other rights of our compatriots.”

Harutyunyan recalls that to solve the problems of an acute shortage of food arising as a result of the blockade, the Artsakh government was forced to limit access to food on 20 January by introducing foot stamps: one kilogram of rice, buckwheat, pasta, sugar and vegetable oil per person per month.

“By interrupting the supply of electricity and natural gas in harsh winter conditions, Azerbaijan aggravated the humanitarian crisis in Artsakh. Due to problems with heating and food all kindergartens, primary and secondary schools were closed, which deprived 20,000 children and teenagers of education. The work of many enterprises was also suspended, as a result of which thousands of citizens were left without jobs. The construction of about 3,700 apartments for internally displaced persons from the territories occupied by Azerbaijan was stopped, as well as other construction work,” the statement says.

“We are grateful to the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Russian peacekeeping mission for their efforts to ensure the relocation to Armenia of about ninety seriously ill people, to help reunite dozens of separated families and to transport a minimum amount of food to Artsakh, which helps prevent famine. However, the situation remains unbearable under conditions of acute shortage of food, medicines and other essentials, constant interruptions of gas and electricity supply, separation of thousands of families, economic collapse and other crisis circumstances,” the statement reads.

“We appeal, first of all, to Russia, the U.S. and France, which are co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, as well as to all members of the international community, jointly or separately, to take effective measures to open the road to life in Artsakh and prevent new crimes. In this context we call on them to impose sanctions against Azerbaijan,” the statement reads.

The statement says Azerbaijan’s attempt to carry out ethnic cleansing against the people of Artsakh is a crime against humanity.

‘Its prevention is a moral, legal and political obligation for all signatories to the United Nations Charter. Therefore, it is the duty of every member of the international community to do everything possible and to protect the people of Artsakh and their dignified life in their homeland,’ the statement says.

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