in Russian – http://crossroadorg.info/en/wosornu-16-8-2023
On August 16, 2023 UN Security Council held a meeting on the humanitarian situation around the Lachin Corridor between Armenia and Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh).
Below is a video and a brief of a speech by UN senior humanitarian affairs official (the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, OCHA) Edem Wosornu at the beginning of the meeting.
Video (5 min)
Thank you, madam President and thank you the members of the Council for the opportunity to brief you today. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs is not currently in a position to independently verify information regarding the movement of people or goods through routes that include the Lachin corridor, or on the well-being of civilians in the areas where Russian peacekeepers have been deployed.
We are, however, aware of ongoing reports on these issues, including around shortages of food and medicines and disruption to energy supplies that are required to maintain critical infrastructure and services such as health and water facilities. We are also aware of reports that some essential health care interventions may have had to be suspended including surgeries. The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs is in regular contact with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which remains the only international humanitarian body that has access to the area.
As the ICRC reported in their 25 July Statement, they have been unable to transport humanitarian assistance through the Lachin corridor to the civilian population in the area or through any other route including Agdam for several weeks.
1:55 Although medical evacuations continue the ICRC has not been able to bring medical items into the area since the 7th of July and their food deliveries stopped on the 14th of June. ICRC has highlighted concerning shortages of essential food items and life-saving medical supplies.
Madam President, members of the Council, International Humanitarian Law is very clear: parties must allow and facilitate the rapid and unimpeded passage of humanitarian relief for all civilians in need. They must ensure that humanitarian relief personnel have the freedom of movement required for their functions.
2:50 What matters, is that passage is as rapid as possible in the circumstances. It is therefore critical that the ICRC’s delivery of humanitarian relief be allowed to resume through any available routes.
Madam President, the ICRC is doing everything it can but as a single organization, it can only cover the most urgent needs. Other impartial humanitarian relief must also be allowed to reach civilians who need it, and a sustainable solution for safe and regular transit of people and goods must be found.
3:45 Here I would reference the United Nations Secretary General’s Statement on the 2nd of August in which he expressed particular concern about reports of the deteriorating humanitarian situation on the ground and called for urgent steps to facilitate access.
It is incumbent on the parties not to impede or politicize any principled humanitarian effort. Responding to humanitarian needs is not an act of legitimization or recognition; it does not take sides andit does not yield to political influence.
4:30 OCHA will continue to engage with the parties on humanitarian access to meet the essential needs of civilians in the area. The United Nations country teams in both Armenia and Azerbaijan also maintain open channels with the authorities in those countries and stand fully ready to do everything they can to ensure a response to humanitarian needs.
I thank you.