Yerevan, September 29
More than 70 per cent of Nagorno-Karabakh's population has fled to Armenia, authorities said, as the region's separatist government said it would dissolve itself, and the unrecognised republic inside Azerbaijan would cease to exist by year's end after a three-decade bid for independence.
Armenian officials said that 84,770 people had left Nagorno-Karabakh by Friday morning, continuing a mass exodus from the region of ethnic Armenians that began Sunday.
The region's population was around 1,20,000 before the exodus began. The moves came after Azerbaijan carried out a lightning offensive last week to reclaim full control over the breakaway region and demanded that Armenian troops in Nagorno-Karabakh disarm and the separatist government disband.
A decree signed by the region's separatist president, Samvel Shakhramanyan, cited a September 20 agreement to end the fighting under which Azerbaijan will allow the “free, voluntary and unhindered movement” of Nagorno-Karabakh's residents to Armenia.
Some people lined up for days to get out of Nagorno-Karabakh as the only road to Armenia quickly filled up with vehicles, creating a major traffic jam on the winding mountain road.
Armenian Health Minister Anahit Avanesyan said that some people, including the elderly, had died while on the road to Armenia, because they were “exhausted due to malnutrition, left without even taking medicine with them, and were on the road for more than 40 hours.” Some of those who fled the regional capital, Stepanakert, said they had no hope for the future. — Agencies
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