Armenian Christians flee their homes in Karabakh en masse
Fear of religious and cultural persecution has led to a significant part of Nagorno-Karabakh's population fleeing to Armenia.
Thousands of Christian Armenians have fled Nagorno-Karabakh because of the military actions launched by the Azerbaijani authorities, reports the Catholic publication ncregister.com.
US-based human rights activist Siobhan Nash-Marshall, who established the Christians in Need Foundation (CINF) in 2011 to help Armenian Christians in the region and opened a school for children and adults in Nagorno-Karabakh in 2020, believes that "the mass exodus has begun".
Nash-Marshall received news from her school in Nagorno-Karabakh that "it's over" and that "people from all regions, from all villages have been left without shelter, food and water."
She said hundreds of Armenians are sleeping in the streets and cannot even drink the water because they are sure it has been "poisoned by the Azeris".
Nash-Marshall said there is a queue of 2,000 people outside her school – next to the only bakery – and that "everyone is hungry, scared and desperate".
According to the Armenian government, 6,650 "internally displaced persons" have arrived in Armenia from Nagorno-Karabakh since last week.
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said he expected most of Nagorno-Karabakh's 120,000 ethnic Armenians to flee the region because of the "danger of ethnic cleansing".
Although Nagorno-Karabakh, also known as Artsakh, is internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan, the region is almost entirely populated by ethnic Christian Armenian Christians.
Following the invasion of the Karabakh territory by the Azerbaijani army, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev stated that the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh would be "integrated" and that the enclave representatives were "invited to dialogue" with the government.
Despite these promises, fear of religious and cultural persecution has led a significant part of the population to flee to Armenia.
Eric Akopian, a human rights activist who has travelled to Nagorno-Karabakh, called Azerbaijan's actions in the region "genocide". In his opinion, "95 to 99 per cent" of Karabakh's Armenian population migrates because of "the risk of being killed and tortured".
Photos published on social media show huge queues of refugee cars leaving the region's largest city, Stepanakert.
As earlier reported, refugees from Karabakh were hiding from shelling in the ROC church near Stepanakert.