Deputy Foreign Minister օf Armenia Vahe Gevorgyan participated in and delivered remarks at the "Famine and conflict-induced global food insecurity" UN Security Council open debate

03 August, 2023

On August 3, Deputy Foreign Minister of Armenia Vahe Gevorgyan participated in and delivered remarks at the open debate on “Famine and conflict-induced global food insecurity” organized by the United States under the agenda item “Maintenance of international peace and security” of the UN Security Council.

The open debate was chaired by US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken. The United Nations Famine Prevention and Response Coordinator Reena Ghelani delivered a briefing.

In his remarks, the Deputy Foreign Minister Vahe Gevorgyan particularly noted:

“I would like to express my appreciation to the United States for convening this open debate on such a pertinent topic. I thank Ms. Reena Ghelani, UN Famine Prevention and Response Coordinator and other distinguished briefers for presenting their views on the ways to prevent and address famine by strengthening food security in conflict situations.

Starvation has been repeatedly used as a method of warfare and perpetration of genocide throughout history. But today, I am not going to recall examples from the past or assess future risks of famine in the context of the conflict. Instead I would bring to the attention of the Council a situation which is happening right now, a situation wherein people do not know whether today they will be able to find milk formula for their babies, loaf of bread for their children or provide medicines to critically ill relatives.

As we meet, the people of Nagorno-Karabakh face threat to their very existence resulting from the complete blockade, imposed by Azerbaijan. For more than seven months Azerbaijan continues to block the Lachin corridor, a humanitarian lifeline connecting Nagorno-Karabakh with the outside world. This illegal and inhumane action is in blatant violation of the order of the International Court of Justice of 22 February 2023 reconfirmed by July 6 order, norms of the international humanitarian law and the Trilateral Statement of 9 November 2020.

The complete halt of any humanitarian supplies by Azerbaijan since 15 June this year has led to a critical shortage of food, medical supplies and other essential goods, creating a full-fledged humanitarian crisis. Disruption of electricity and gas supplies has been paralyzing social and healthcare services and the transportation system, depriving the besieged population of their fundamental human rights.

The blockade has a particularly devastating impact on the most vulnerable segments of the population. Due to the lack of essential foods and vitamins, approximately 2,000 pregnant women, around 30,000 children, 20,000 elderly persons and 9,000 persons with disabilities are struggling to survive under conditions of malnutrition, absence of basic supplies and medicines.

Motive, Azerbaijan continuously targets civilians conducting agricultural works, augmenting its manifest intent to impose starvation on the population. 

These warning signs have already been communicated by the ICRC which remains the only international humanitarian mission in Nagorno-Karabakh. In its July 25 news release the International Committee of the Red Cross expressed concern over growing humanitarian needs and emphasized that it is not currently able to bring humanitarian assistance to the civilian population through the Lachin corridor, while stressing that its humanitarian aid convoys are a lifeline for the population in the area. After 3 days of this communication Azerbaijan arrested 68-year-old Vagif Khachatryan, a person who was being transported by the ICRC from Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia for medical treatment. The arrest of a person under the ICRC protection whose transfer was preliminary agreed with Azerbaijan is not merely perfidious act but well-calculated obstruction of the ICRC work in Nagorno-Karabakh.

To address life-saving needs of the most vulnerable, on 26 July the Government of Armenia decided to deliver a consignment of around 360 tons of essential goods, mainly food and medical supplies to Nagorno-Karabakh. We appealed to the peacekeeping forces of the Russian Federation to organize the delivery of the humanitarian assistance to those in need which was established practice throughout past months. However, up until now, the humanitarian cargo remains at the entrance to the Lachin corridor due to obstruction and denial by Azerbaijani side of its transfer.  

The dire humanitarian situation on the ground and the risks of evolving hunger in Nagorno-Karabakh require efficient and timely response by the international community to ensure full and unconditional implementation of the ICJ decisions and full respect of international human rights and international humanitarian law.

We hope that yesterday's statement of the UN Secretary-General wherein he expressed deep concern on the humanitarian situation and emphasized the need of the implementation of ICJ orders for ensuring unimpeded movement of persons, vehicles and cargo along Lachin corridor will be the first step towards full UN engagement on the ground. This engagement is as needed as ever. The cost of inaction is too high to be sustained and this mass atrocity being perpetrated through starvation should and can be prevented and stopped.

We call on the UN and its Security Council to undertake urgent measures to ensure full adherence of Azerbaijan to its legally binding obligations under the ICJ orders and the international humanitarian law, immediately restore the freedom of movement across the Lachin corridor and allow safe and unimpeded humanitarian access of the UN agencies and the ICRC to Nagorno-Karabakh.”

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