Armenia stands ready to cooperate with UN to deliver humanitarian relief response in Artsakh

Armenia stands ready to continue cooperation with the United Nations to deliver a humanitarian relief response in Nagorno-Karabakh, Armenia’s Permanent Representative to the UN Mher Margaryan said at the UN Security Council VTC Meeting “Mine action and sustaining peace: stronger partnerships for better delivery.”

“Landmines, explosive remnants of war and improvised explosive devices continue to pose a serious threat for security of the civilian population, peacekeepers and humanitarian personnel. People residing in conflict areas are particularly vulnerable to the threats posed by landmines and unexploded ordnance, which affect their daily life and have a negative impact on the realization of their human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the right to life and the right to development,”  the Ambassador said.

He noted that mine action, as part of humanitarian emergency response, plays an important role for protection of lives, human rights and dignity of civilians trapped in conflict, including by offering threat mitigation, mine-clearance of communities and agricultural areas, risk education and awareness raising, as well as victim assistance and rehabilitation.

“Armenia is committed to the global efforts in the field of mine action. The Armenian Humanitarian mission in Syria continues to conduct physical de-mining activities in the residential areas of Aleppo province and to promote mine-awareness, with the view to ensure safety and security of the civilian population in close cooperation with the UNMAS,” Amb.  Margaryan said.

The Armenian Center for Humanitarian Demining and Expertise, a state non-commercial institution, has developed cooperation with international and regional organizations, as well as humanitarian demining agencies in the field of mine awareness, survey and clearance of contaminated areas and victim assistance. 

“For almost three decades the people of Nagorno-Karabakh and border communities of Armenia have been severely affected by massive mine contamination as a result of military activities of Azerbaijan. Mine accidents have led to killing, maiming and injury of many civilians, including children, and have significantly impeded the socio-economic development. Azerbaijan has consistently obstructed demining activities, as part of its wider policy of obstructing humanitarian access of the international community to Nagorno-Karabakh,” the Armenian envoy stressed.

He said the large-scale military aggression unleashed by Azerbaijan against the people of Nagorno-Karabakh with the support of Turkey and foreign terrorist fighters launched on 27 September 2020, has led to further contamination of the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, in particular the civilian settlements by unexploded ordnance.

“Azerbaijan has been using all types of heavy weaponry, including multiple launch rocket systems, artillery, missiles, various types of UAVs, military aircraft and banned cluster munitions to conduct targeted attacks on the civilian population in gross violation of the international humanitarian law. Hundreds of cluster bomblets, sub-munitions and other explosive remnants in residential areas of Nagorno-Karabakh have caused serious security risks to civilians. Human Rights Watch has documented use of cluster munitions in various populated areas of the capital city Stepanakert and other settlements of Nagorno-Karabakh,” Mher Margaryan stated.

Since the establishment of ceasefire and the deployment of the peacekeeping forces of the Russian Federation in Nagorno-Karabakh, the humanitarian deminers have cleared 1873 hectares of territory, including residential areas and agricultural fields from unexploded ordnance and neutralized more than 25 thousand explosive objects, which also highlights the scope of the challenge.

“Politicization and obstruction by Azerbaijan of safe and unimpeded humanitarian access of the UN agencies to the conflict zone undermines comprehensive assessment of the humanitarian, protection and early recovery needs and human rights situation of the population of Nagorno-Karabakh,” the Ambassador added.

“Armenia stands ready to continue cooperation with the United Nations to deliver a humanitarian relief response in Nagorno-Karabakh, including for the mitigation of the consequences caused by landmines, explosive remnants of war and improvised explosive devices on the conflict-affected population, in line with the humanitarian principles. Human rights-based, people-centered and inclusive approach is key for effective international cooperation in the field of mine action in conflict settings and humanitarian emergencies,” he concluded.     

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