Armenia/Azerbaijan: Civilian population, whether leaving or staying, must be protected
As individual families make decisions about whether to stay or leave, and as large-scale population movements are taking place, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) calls on authorities to respect international humanitarian law and other applicable law.
Any safe passage operation should occur only if people themselves decide to leave. Family members must not be separated against their will. People who are sick, wounded, elderly, pregnant, have a disability, and separated/unaccompanied children must be given particular consideration.
The ICRC stands ready to act as a neutral intermediary and to facilitate safe passage operations provided that 1) the people concerned freely make the decision to leave and 2) this action is requested by and modalities are agreed upon with the authorities.
The ICRC’s top priorities during this period is to ensure the protection of people leaving and those who choose to stay; ensure access to food, healthcare and other essential services such as water, energy and heat; assist the population with maintaining and restoring contact between separated family members; and to continue the transport of the wounded for medical treatment and the dignified treatment of the dead.
The humanitarian situation in the area remains precarious. Food and essential medicines are scarce, and telecommunication services are disrupted, resulting in difficulties to contact loved ones. Over the last week the ICRC has evacuated nearly 50 people with urgent medical needs and delivered 66 metric tons of wheat, medical supplies, 28,000 diapers, and 1,500 litres of fuel to power generators at medical facilities.
About the ICRC
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is a neutral, impartial and independent organization with an exclusively humanitarian mandate that stems from the Geneva Conventions of 1949. It helps people around the world affected by armed conflict and other violence, doing everything it can to protect their lives and dignity and to relieve their suffering, often alongside its Red Cross and Red Crescent partners.