1 of 2 | Ethnic Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh cross the border with Azerbaijan by car, carrying their belongings with them, near the village of Kornidzor, Armenia, on Friday. Photo by Anatoly Maltsev/EPA-EFE
Sept. 30 (UPI) -- A former top official of the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Eastern Europe said Saturday almost none of its ethnic Armenian population remains following a mass wave of migration of more than 100,000 people.
Artak Beglaryan, the region's former state minister, said in a social media post that the enclave "is almost fully empty with at most a few hundred people remaining, who are also leaving."
Tens of thousands of ethnic Armenians have fled Nagorno-Karabakh following a military operation conducted by Azerbaijan to recapture the area, officials confirmed Friday.
Roughly 88,000 of them crossed the border into Armenia in less than a week, the United Nations said Friday, accounting for more than 80% of the Armenian population in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, which shares a border with Azerbaijan.
Approximately 120,000 ethnic Armenians called the region home.
A majority of those coming into Armenia do have family there, while approximately 32,000 require government accommodation, according to the Armenian Prime Minister's Office.
The UN is sending a team of observers to the region.
President Ilham Aliyev's government last week launched a military operation to retake the 1,700-square-mile territory in the name of Azerbaijan. The breakaway republic was formed in 1994 following a war between Azerbaijan and Armenia and has seen several military conflicts over the years.
Azerbaijan will now formally dissolve the republic, prompting thousands of ethnic Armenians to immediately flee across the border back into Armenia, which has a total population of 2.8 million.
The region itself is located in the South Caucasus, in the Lesser Caucasus mountain range.
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan in a speech last Sunday warned of the possibility of ethnic cleansing, but Aliyev has denied any hint of the practice and publicly stated he will guarantee the safety of Armenians choosing to remain in Nagorno-Karabakh.