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World News

Rishi Sunak urged to act on the Nagorno-Karabakh blockade in open letter by church leaders

by Kelly Valencia

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is facing urgent appeals to address the "cruelty and aggression" inflicted upon Armenians in Nagorno Karabakh, a semi-autonomous region disputed between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

In 2020, the region descended into warfare, with Azerbaijan ultimately reclaiming key parts of the enclave where approximately 120,000 ethnic Armenians reside. A ceasefire has halted the conflict since then. However, in recent months, Azerbaijan has escalated pressure on Armenia by closing the Lachin Corridor—a mountainous road serving as the sole link between Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia.

As a result, aid organisations, including the International Committee of the Red Cross, are issuing warnings about an impending humanitarian crisis due to their inability to transport food and fuel into the breakaway region.

Now, the Archbishop of London Coptic Orthodox Church, as well as the Primate of the Armenian Church of the United Kingdom and Ireland Pontifical Legate, the Bishop of Southwark and other church leaders have written an open letter to Rishi Sunak urging immediate action.

The leaders argue that mass starvation is likely in the coming months.

“For many months now, and throughout the harsh winter and hot summer of the Caucasus mountains, food, medicine, gas, and other vital supplies have been prevented from reaching Nagorno Karabakh,” they wrote.

“Mass starvation is likely in the coming months. Our fears are also increasing for the lives of the 30,000 children and pregnant women affected by this unjustifiable and intolerable situation,” they continued.

The signatories include Armenian, Apostolic, Anglican, Catholic, Orthodox Church leaders in the UK.

They continued: “Prime Minister, we urge you and His Majesty’s Government to take decisive action to open the Lachin Corridor to prevent the genocide of the population in Nagorno Karabakh. We trust that your actions will be timely to save the lives of tens of thousands of people on the verge of dying as a direct result of the current blockade.

“As church leaders we come to you to place this crisis in its humanitarian context and hope that you will use your good offices to relieve our Armenian sisters and brothers who are being deprived of any assistance.”

You can read the letter in full here.

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