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UN mission to visit Nagorno-Karabakh for the first time in almost 30 years

Azerbaijan has invited a UN mission to visit Nagorno-Karabakh “in the coming days”, amid an Armenian exodus after the offensive of Azerbaijani troops, the Foreign Ministry informed on Friday.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric confirmed that a UN mission led by a senior aid official would travel to Nagorno-Karabakh this weekend.

While there the team will seek to assess the situation on the ground and identify the humanitarian needs for both people remaining and the people that are on the move. The focus will be on humanitarian and also, as part of that, on issues of protection.

The United States and other countries urged Baku to allow international monitors into Karabakh amid concerns about possible human rights violations. Armenia has accused Azerbaijan of ethnic cleansing in Karabakh, but the Baku ministry vigorously denies this.

“The visit will allow (the mission) to become acquainted with the current humanitarian activities being carried out by Azerbaijan in the region. In addition, the group members will be shown the process of rebuilding certain infrastructure, disarmament and confiscation of ammunition from illegal Armenian armed forces, as well as the dangers posed by mines.”

Earlier, a representative of the Azerbaijani government stated that the media would also be allowed to visit Nagorno-Karabakh. The region is internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan but has been ruled by an ethnic Armenian state since the 1990s.

The Armenian government estimates that despite Baku’s promises to protect the civil rights of the remaining Armenians, nearly 93,000 Armenians had crossed into Armenian territory as of midday Friday, which is more than three-quarters of Karabakh’s population.

Simultaneously with statements on security guarantees for ethnic Armenians, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev declared that his “iron fist” made the idea of an independent ethnic Armenian Karabakh an inverted page of history.

Aliyev told US State Secretary Antony Blinken by telephone Tuesday that his forces struck only “military targets and civilians were not harmed,” according to a statement from the Azerbaijani presidential administration.

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