On September 19, Azerbaijan announced that it had initiated local anti-terrorist operations in Karabakh in response to the tragic deaths of eco-civilians and four police officers because of landmines, which they claimed were placed by the Armenian armed forces, UN Assistant Secretary General Miroslav Yencha said at the emergency session of the UN Security Council convened on Armenia’s request to address the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh.
"According to the official statements, Azerbaijan informed the Russian peacekeeping forces and the joint Russian-Turkish monitoring center about its activities, the purpose of which was to prevent large-scale provocation by the Armenian armed forces, neutralize their military infrastructure and ensure their withdrawal and the restoration of the constitutional order of the Republic of Azerbaijan. The developments led to a sharp escalation of hostilities. "Azerbaijani forces crossed the contact line, there were reports of deaths, including among the civilian population, as well as the evacuation of several thousand people inside Karabakh," he said.
Miroslav Yencha mentioned that the Russian peacekeeping force, which also suffered casualties, recorded many violations of the ceasefire. The UN, which, he said, is not present along the contact line or in other areas under the Russian mandate, is unable to confirm these various claims and accusations.
"Let me, however, mention the extreme concern of the UN Secretary General in the sense that fighting has recently resumed, due to which civilians, including children, have been killed. Volker Turk, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, also expressed concern about the repeated use of armed force against civilians. He noted that it is very important to return to the peace process and work towards an agreement based on respect for human rights.
The Secretary General calls on all parties concerned to strictly observe the 2020 ceasefire and the trilateral declaration of November 9 of that year and continue to fulfill their responsibilities, especially those related to international humanitarian law and international human rights norms," he said.
Miroslav Yencha noted that the escalation in Nagorno-Karabakh took place after the day before, on September 18, much-needed shipments of wheat, flour and critical medical supplies arrived in Nagorno-Karabakh through the Lachin corridor and the Aghdam road.
"Members of the council will probably remember that during the last month, the issues of freedom of movement of civilians and humanitarian access have been a source of tension and heated discussions between Baku and Yerevan. The Secretary-General remains deeply concerned about the consequences of the escalation, the consequences of which are linked to the fragile humanitarian situation, and calls on all parties to urgently ensure unhindered access to humanitarian aid for civilians in need.
We also note that the International Committee of the Red Cross has expressed concern about the humanitarian consequences of the recent incidents for the already vulnerable population in the region. "Recalling that access to basic supplies and medical care has been very limited for several months, the International Committee of the Red Cross has estimated that the situation will probably deepen their suffering," he said.
The Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations said that the developments of the last few days should be seen and considered within the framework of regular ceasefire violations, general patterns that have been constant. "Although the hostilities stopped yesterday, the situation on the ground is fragile, we also realize that as a positive step, the representatives of the local population and the government of Azerbaijan met a few hours ago and had a preliminary discussion. In conclusion, we call for a permanent end to all hostilities. "Further escalation of the situation will lead to human casualties, loss and suffering and will derail efforts that are receiving international support," he said.
Miroslav Yencha stressed that the protection of the civilian population and taking care of their essential needs, including protecting their rights, should be a priority, and a real dialogue should take place between the government of Azerbaijan and representatives of the region, ensuring full involvement in the regulation of relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan. According to him, this is the only stable course for the future.
"The Secretariat will continue to maintain close ties with all parties concerned and is committed to ongoing peace efforts. The Secretariat is also ready to conduct a humanitarian needs assessment if it receives access and provide support as needed," he said.