Half of Nagorno-Karabakh’s population has been displaced due to the recent fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan, officials from the ethnic Armenian enclave said on Wednesday. The population of Nagorno-Karabakh is about 150,000.
“According to our preliminary estimates, some 50 percent of Karabakh’s population and 90 percent of women and children — some 70,000 to 75,000 people — have been displaced,” Nagorno-Karabakh’s rights ombudsman Artak Beglaryan told AFP.
The latest numbers put the death toll for the battle that began on September 27th around 360, including dozens of civilians on both sides. The real number is believed to be much larger since Azerbaijan has yet to confirm military casualties.
Azerbaijan has been accused of indiscriminately shelling Nagorno-Karabakh’s capital Stepanakert. The human rights organization Amnesty International said it identified Israeli-made cluster bombs that appear to have been used by Azerbaijan in Stepanakert. Cluster munitions are banned under a convention signed by over 100 countries, although neither Azerbaijan, Armenia, or Israel have signed it.
Nagorno-Karabakh is an ethnic Armenian enclave within the internationally recognized borders of Azerbaijan. The collapse of the Soviet Union turned the border dispute deadly, and tens of thousands were killed until a ceasefire was reached in 1994. Since then, Nagorno-Karabakh has operated as a de facto independent state with Armenian support.
The latest clashes are the heaviest the disputed territory has seen since 1994. The US, France, and Russia co-chair the Minsk Group, which was formed in 1992 to promote negotiations and talks over the Nagorno-Karabakh. The three countries are meeting in Geneva on Thursday to discuss the renewed fighting.