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Nearly 3,000 people flee Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia

By Darryl Coote   |   Sept. 25, 2023 at 3:40 AM
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan called on the international community Sunday to ensure Azerbaijan does not commit "ethnic cleansing" in the Nagorno-Karabakh region. File Photo by Kremlin POOL/UPI

Sept. 25 (UPI) -- Armenia said nearly 3,000 ethnic Armenians have crossed into the country from the Nagorno-Karabakh region that was recaptured last week by Azerbaijan.

Yerevan said in a statement that as of 6 a.m. Monday, 2,906 people from the Armenian enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh entered the country, including more than 1,850 since 10 p.m. Sunday.

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"Throughout the night, the flow of forcibly displaced persons continued," Armenia said, amid expectations that the number of evacuees will increase.

The ethnic Armenian-populated enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan.

Two wars have been fought over the region by Azerbaijan and Armenia, with the most recent being a six-week conflict in 2020 that ended with a Russia-led cease-fire agreement that included the maintenance of the Lachin corridor, which is a mountain road and the only link for residents of Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia.

That deal, though, had all but fallen apart with Azerbaijani forces taking control of the vital Lachin Corridor in December.

Azerbaijan reclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh with a so-called anti-terrorism campaign it launched on Tuesday that included targeting Armenian military positions within the disputed region.

On Wednesday, Azerbaijan announced an agreement had been reached for Armenia to essentially leave the region where up to 120,000 Armenians live.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan warned in a speech Sunday of "ethnic cleansing" of Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh now under Azerbaijani control and called on the international community to ensure their protection.

"If real conditions for Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians to live in their homes and effective mechanisms of protection from ethnic cleansing are not created, the chances that the Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians will see leaving their homeland as the only way to save their lives and identity is greatly increased," he said.