Almost 120,000 ethnic Armenians lived in the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave, which is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan reopened the only road from Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia on Sunday after months. The blockade had significantly worsened the humanitarian situation for the people in the region.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said his country was ready to accept 40,000 refugees. So far, however, the authorities have only managed to accommodate around 2,850 people.

Meanwhile, Azerbaijani authorities said they had arrested a former high-ranking government official of the pro-Armenian forces in Nagorno-Karabakh. Ruben Vardanyan was picked up on his way to Armenia and handed over to officials in Baku, the border guard said. The businessman headed the government in Nagorno-Karabakh from November 2022 to February 2023.

Armenia and Azerbaijan have been fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh for decades. Yerevan has accused Baku of planning “ethnic cleansing” in the region after Azerbaijan launched a large-scale military offensive there on September 19.

Just one day later, the pro-Armenian fighters in Nagorno-Karabakh had to admit defeat and accept a ceasefire agreement. Baku now wants to fully reintegrate the self-proclaimed Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh into its territory.

On Wednesday it was said from Baku that 192 Azerbaijani soldiers and one civilian had been killed in the military offensive. More than 500 other Azerbaijani soldiers were also injured, the Health Ministry said. The pro-Armenian side reported 213 deaths.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Baerbock called for international observers to be sent to Nagorno-Karabakh. “Nobody really knows how the people there are doing and what they have to go through,” explained the minister on Wednesday in Berlin. “We now need transparency and the eyes and ears of the international community on site. Together with our partners, we will work with all our might to send observers as quickly as possible.”

She appealed to Baku to accept such a deployment. If Azerbaijan were to allow these observers, it would be a “vote of trust” that Azerbaijan is serious “about its commitments to the security and well-being of the people,” Baerbock continued.

In addition, humanitarian aid should be increased “once again significantly”. The minister explained that the additional funding for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) would be increased from two to five million euros. After the months-long blockade, there is still a lack of almost everything “that is needed for a life of dignity: food, medicine or sanitary products.”