As the humanitarian crisis in the blockaded enclave of Nagorno-Karabagh (Artsakh) reaches a tragic level, the World Council of Churches reiterates its statements and positions on the need for urgent and immediate action by the international community.
The Lachin corridor, the only road that links the region to Armenia, has been blocked for more than seven months, sparking a humanitarian emergency and putting the lives of 120,000 people, including children, in great danger. They are lacking food, medication, electricity, and gas.
The WCC urges the international community to intervene immediately and quickly in order to end the blockade and save the lives of the Artsakh residents and then proceed to efforts of finding diplomatic solutions for a just peace in the region.
The WCC calls on Azerbaijan and other forces involved for the immediate lifting of the blockade and to reopen the Lachin corridor to allow for the two-way free and safe passage of civilians, transport, and goods along the corridor and to guarantee unimpeded humanitarian access to alleviate the suffering of the Armenian population of Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh).
Previous statements and minutes on Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh)
At its 11th Assembly in Karslruhe the World Council of Churches released a minute entitled “Consequences of the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war,” in which it reiterated its condemnation of the use of chemical weapons and cluster munitions, the targeting of civilians, hospitals and public infrastructure, and all other war crimes, beheadings, torture, and other atrocities witnessed during the conflict.
Following the assembly the World Council of Churches and the Conference of European Churches sent a letter to H.E. Zbigniew Rau, OSCE chairman-in-office, appealing for urgent action by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to promote a just and sustainable peace in Nagorno Karabakh.
In December 2022 following the blockade of the Lachin corridor, the World Council of Churches and the Conference of European Churches issued a joint letter sent to the European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell that denounced the ten-day-old blockade of the ethnic Armenian enclave of Artsakh/Nagorno-Karabakh as a violation of the tripartite agreement that ended the six-week war of 2020.
At the central committee in June 2023 the World Council of Churches issued a minute on Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh):
Recalling previous statements and actions by the WCC, and profoundly concerned about the humanitarian crisis in Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) due to the closure and blockade by Azerbaijan of the Lachin corridor, the only road connecting Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) to Armenia, the central committee:
Calls on Azerbaijan and other forces involved for the immediate lifting of the blockade and to reopen the Lachin corridor to allow for the two-way free and safe passage of civilians, transport, and goods along the corridor and to guarantee unimpeded humanitarian access to alleviate the suffering of the Armenian population of Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh).
Requests the general secretary to explore the possibility of an ecumenical solidarity delegation visit to the region, and/or other timely measures to address the situation.
Calls on all member churches and ecumenical partners to remain engaged in Christian solidarity with the churches and people of Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh in their search for a just and sustainable peace.
Geneva 31 July 2023
Rev. Prof. Dr Jerry Pillay
World Council of Churches