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Armenia, Azerbaijan grant Red Cross access to border areas

Head of ICRC Regional Delegation for Russia, Belarus, and Moldova Ikhtiyar Aslanov also noted that the organization had not stopped its work during the escalation of the conflict

MOSCOW, September 6. /TASS/. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has been granted access to border areas and Nagorno-Karabakh’s territory both by the Armenian and the Azerbaijani sides, Head of ICRC Regional Delegation for Russia, Belarus, and Moldova Ikhtiyar Aslanov said in an interview with TASS.

"One important issue for us is access from the point of view of security. As you know, the situation develops differently, especially along the international border between Azerbaijan and Armenia. And one of the most important matters for us is the security of our colleagues who may work there," he said. "We have access from both Azerbaijan and Armenia."

He noted that the ICRC is one of the few international organizations working in this region. "And we did not stop our work during the escalation of the conflict. We continue it today. Naturally, the situation is changing and people’s needs are changing along with it. And based on this situation, we change our programs and approaches," he said.

According to Aslanov, Red Cross employees are now addressing long-term issues, whereas urgent humanitarian problems were the focus during the hostilities. In particular, these problems included the search for the bodies of those killed, satisfying the needs of refugees and displaced persons, ensuring water and medicines supplies. "And this work continues. Since last year, we have increased our budget in the region - it is around 45 million Swiss francs to organize our humanitarian activities. The number of our employees - both international and local staff - in this region has also been increased," he said.

Situation at the Armenian-Azerbaijani border

Renewed clashes between Azerbaijan and Armenia erupted on September 27, 2020, with intense battles raging in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh. On November 9, 2020, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan signed a joint statement on a complete ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Under the document, the Azerbaijani and Armenian sides stopped at the positions that they had held and Russian peacekeepers were deployed along the engagement line in Nagorno-Karabakh and along the Lachin corridor that connects Armenia with the enclave to exercise control of the ceasefire observance. Apart from that, a number of districts came over to Baku’s control.

The situation at the Armenian-Azerbaijani border has been tense since May 12, when Armenia’s defense ministry said that Azerbaijani armed forces had tried to carry out "certain works" in a border area in Syunik Province in a bid to "adjust the border. Since then, the sides have been reporting border incidents from time to time.