Tbilisi, Sep 29 (EFE).- More than 84,000 people have crossed into Armenia from Nagorno-Karabakh, according to Armenian government figures on Friday.
A handout satellite image made available by Maxar Technologies shows ethnic Armenian flee Karabakh for Armenia at the Lachin checkpoint (L) controlled by Russian peackeepers and Azeri border guards, Azerbaijan, 26 September 2023. EFE/EPA/MAXAR TECHNOLOGIES HANDOUT HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES
The exodus is equal to more than 70 percent of the population of around 120,000 ethnic Armenians in the breakaway region claimed by Azerbaijan in its military offensive last week.
Nazeli Baghdasaryan, spokesperson for Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, said Friday that as of 6 am, a total of 84,770 forcibly displaced people from Nagorno Karabakh had crossed into Armenia.
Thousands were arriving through the Lachin corridor, which connects Nagorno-Karabakh with southern Armenia, after traffic jams causing travel to take more than 20 hours.
The government said the previous day that the pace of arrivals has not dropped and that volunteers from the humanitarian coordination centers process about 1,000 registration requests every hour.
Pashinyan, who again on Thursday accused Azerbaijani forces of “ethnic cleansing,” predicted that soon “there will be no Armenians left in Nagorno-Karabakh.”
Azerbaijan flatly rejected this statement, with its Foreign Ministry saying that “Pashinyan knows well enough that the current departure of Armenians from Azerbaijan’s Karabakh region is their personal and individual decision and has nothing to do with forced relocation.”
Armenian police organise passing of ethnic Armenians fleeing Nagorno-Karabakh region after they crossed the Azerbaijan-Armenia border near the village of Kornidzor, Armenia, 28 September 2023. EFE/EPA/ANATOLY MALTSEV
He also urged Armenians in the region “not to leave their places of residence and become part of the multinational Azerbaijan.”
However, the Karabakhs reject any form of coexistence with the Azerbaijanis after two wars for control of Nagorno-Karabakh in the last three decades and a flash Azerbaijani military operation on the 19th and 20th to reintegrate the separatist territory into its administrative and legal system.
They fear that their rights and safety will not be guaranteed if they remain in the enclave. EFE