Armenian officials have claimed that 84,770 people have left Nagorno-Karabakh as of the morning of September 29, meaning that three in four residents now have fled their native homeland.
Some 70 per cent of the original inhabitants of Nagorno-Karabakh, or the Artsakh Republic, have now relocated to Armenia.
On September 28, the Nagorno-Karabakh separatist government announced its dissolution, effectively ending the unrecognised republic within Azerbaijan that had been fighting for independence for three decades.
Before the Azerbaijani takeover, Nagorno-Karabakh had a reported Armenian population of 120,000 people. UN refugee agency officials have now told AFP that close to the entire population may flee to Armenia.
The Lachin Corridor, the sole passage from the region to Armenia that was blocked for months by Azerbaijan, is now the scene of thousands of cars and vans carrying those leaving. The vast surge of vehicles has resulted in huge traffic jams.
Armenian Minister of Health Anahit Avanesyan said some people, including the elderly, had died 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”.
These developments follow Azerbaijan’s swift military offensive to retake full control of the breakaway area last week. During that, they demanded the disarmament of Armenian soldiers in Nagorno-Karabakh and the dissolution of its government.
Azerbaijan promised to respect the rights of the territory’s Armenian community and urged the population not to leave. The Armenians, having fallen victim to a genocide before during the First World War, do not seem to want to take any chances this time.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said that now the current war had ended, “$7 billion has been spent up to now from the Azerbaijani budget for reconstruction of the liberated territories”.
Observers expect Azerbaijanis are set to move in and form a new ethnic majority.
Azerbaijan is also arresting Armenians it accuses of terrorism. According to Reuters, it has a list of hundreds of people it wants to detain.