As the contested region of Nagorno-Karabakh grapples with an enduring military blockade, 120,000 Armenian Christians have been left bereft of vital necessities with the threat of genocide to one of the world’s oldest Christian communities hanging in the balance.
Nestled within the Muslim nation of Azerbaijan, Nagorno-Karabakh, also known as Artsakh, stands as a predominantly Armenian enclave in the South Caucasus. Essential provisions like food, medicine, and fuel were traditionally transported via truck from the Armenian capital, Yerevan. This journey required a rugged five-hour drive through the mountainous and scenic Lachin corridor, the sole route linking inhabitants of the region to the rest of the world. Since December 2022, the Lachin Corridor has been deliberately obstructed by the Azerbaijan dictatorship, and on July 26, the flow of humanitarian aid was completely halted, with 19 trucks and 400 tons of resources confined at a checkpoint.
The repercussions of this blockade have led to acute shortages of vital resources as well as electricity and water outages, rendering life unsustainable for the affected population.
This humanitarian convoy is still here waiting to reach people of Nagorno Karabagh to meet their very basic needs and to stop hunger. But the Lachin Corridor, which is the road of life, is still blocked by Azerbaijan for months.
120,000 people, 2,000 of which are pregnant… pic.twitter.com/fcvvgiCF2J
— Edmon Marukyan (@edmarukyan) August 13, 2023
“This project of ethnic/religious cleansing has not come out of the blue. It represents the latest wave of a centuries-long genocide process,” said Dr. John Eibner, president of Christian Solidarity International, a Christian human rights organization promoting religious liberty and human dignity. “Will we turn a blind eye to the destruction of yet another Christian community at the hands of an aggressive Islamic power? Or will we stand in spiritual, material, and political solidarity with this persecuted part of the Body of Christ?”
— Christian Solidarity International (CSI) (@CSI_humanrights) August 23, 2023
On June 21, former U.S. Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback called for a bi-partisan Nagorno-Karabakh human rights act as a witness in a Congressional hearing on “Safeguarding the People of Nagorno-Karabakh.”
For nearly eight months, the Christians of Nagorno-Karabakh have endured this blockade orchestrated by the Azerbaijani regime, led by Azerbaijani’s president Ilham Aliyev. This humanitarian crisis is born from political tensions and efforts to drive ethnic and religious groups from their ancestral homeland. The Armenian Christian heritage traces back to the apostles Thaddeus and Bartholomew, who introduced the Gospel leading to Armenia’s distinction as the first nation to officially embrace Christianity as the state religion in 301 A.D.
Because of its Christian identity, Armenia has faced relentless persecution and oppression throughout its history. Today, the existential threat posed by Azerbaijan and its ally, Turkey, looms large, and the ongoing conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh has captured the attention of global Christian leaders, including key religious freedom advocates in the United States. Amb. Sam Brownback and Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) have drawn attention to the issue in Washington, while Christian broadcasters Billy Hallowell, Kevin McCullough, and others have helped to educate the U.S. audience on the crisis.
Please join fellow believers in praying for the imperiled Christians of Nagorno-Karabakh, and learn more about the ongoing crisis here.