The ICRC has transported scores of such persons to Armenian hospitals since Baku effectively blocked Karabakh’s land link with Armenia in December. Only Red Cross vehicles as well as convoys of Russian peacekeepers were able to pass through the road.
Eteri Musayelian, a spokeswoman for the ICRC office in Stepanakert, told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service that the medical evacuations were suspended on April 29 due to the “new situation” created by the Azerbaijani checkpoint.
“In this new situation, we need to understand whether the terms remain the same and whether they are acceptable to all,” explained Musayelian.
“We are now negotiating with all decision-makers because there need to be agreements acceptable to all sides so that we can continue our humanitarian mission as a neutral humanitarian organization,” she said without disclosing any details of those negotiations.
Artak Beglarian, a Karabakh official stranded in Yerevan because of the blockade, said Azerbaijan’s “dictatorial regime” blocked the evacuations and is now trying to impose passport controls on Karabakh patients and Red Cross staff passing through the Lachin corridor.
“30 patients waiting for transfer [to Armenia,]” Beglarian wrote on Twitter.
They include Karo, a 10-year-old Karabakh Armenian boy suffering from multiple illnesses. According to his mother, Narine Danielian, Karo was due to be transported to Armenia for urgent medical treatment on May 2 along with four other children.
“Every minute is really critical for their life,” said Danielian.
Azerbaijan claims that its checkpoint was set up to stop the transfer of weapons from Armenia to Karabakh.
The Armenian side has strongly denied any arms supplies and accused Baku of another gross violation of a Russian-brokered agreement that stopped the 2020 Armenian-Azerbaijani war. Russia and the United States have also criticized Baku’s move.