In a concerning development that has largely escaped the world’s attention, a humanitarian catastrophe of significant proportions is unfolding in Nagorno-Karabakh, also known as Artsakh, a disputed region locked in a struggle between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The crisis, marked by the use of starvation as a hidden weapon, has placed the Armenian population of the area in a dire situation.

The catalyst for this dire situation was the blockade of the Lachin corridor, the sole lifeline connecting Artsakh to the Republic of Armenia and the broader international community. This blockade was initiated by Azerbaijan on December 12, 2022. It disrupted not only the flow of essential supplies such as food, life-saving medical resources, baby formula, and hygiene products but also the movement of people and critically ill patients in both directions. Furthermore, electricity and natural gas supplies to Artsakh were abruptly severed as Azerbaijan cut utility lines originating from Armenia.

In response to this grave situation, the International Court of Justice issued a ruling on February 22, 2023, in the case of Armenia v. Azerbaijan. The ruling unequivocally ordered Azerbaijan to “take all measures at its disposal to ensure unimpeded movement of persons, vehicles, and cargo along the Lachin Corridor in both directions.” However, this legal directive has been disregarded.

On April 23, 2023, Azerbaijani forces took their defiance further by establishing an unauthorized checkpoint on the Armenia-Azerbaijan border, thereby intensifying the blockade. The consequence has been a complete halt of humanitarian aid deliveries to Artsakh. Essential humanitarian cargo dispatched by the Armenian government since July 26 and France since August 30 now languishes at the Armenian border, unable to reach the population. This embargo stands as a stark violation of basic human rights.

The consequences of this blockade have been severe. Basic food staples and essential products have become scarce and unaffordable, causing widespread crisis. Malnutrition and stress have led to an increase in early miscarriages and a declining birth rate. Most distressingly, 30,000 children face the threat of starvation due to the acute food shortage, and an additional 6,828 children have lost access to education, care, and nutrition.

The World Council of Churches and our member the Armenia Inter-Church Charitable Round Table Foundation, actors in emergency prevention and response work, issue an urgent appeal to the global community. They call for immediate and unyielding action to halt the ongoing genocide targeting Armenians in Artsakh. The gravity of the situation demands swift action, as any further delay may be a harbinger of irreversible tragedy.

The organizations implore the international community to stand in solidarity and prevent a large-scale war and genocide against Armenians by Azerbaijan. The alternative—a failure to intervene promptly—would result in the annihilation of Armenians in Artsakh within weeks, leaving the world to confront the devastating consequences, including a wave of refugees and genocide survivors.

In conclusion, the urgency of this situation cannot be overstated. The lives of thousands of innocent people hang in the balance, and and the world may witness another tragic episode of genocide. As the world watches, it falls to the global community to act decisively, to protect the vulnerable, and to avert a full-blown humanitarian catastrophe.