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UN chief condemns continuing escalation of violence in Nagorno-Karabakh

 UN Secretary-General António Guterres.
UN Photo/Mark Garten
UN Secretary-General António Guterres.

UN chief condemns continuing escalation of violence in Nagorno-Karabakh

Peace and Security

The United Nations Secretary-General has condemned the continuing escalation of violence in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone, reminding all sides of their obligations under international humanitarian law to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure.

Secretary-General António Guterres “is gravely concerned by reports of the extension of hostilities, including the targeting of populated areas,” read a statement issued by his spokesperson, Stéphane Dujarric, on Monday. 

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“He reminds all sides of their obligations to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure under international humanitarian law,” the statement added. 

The Secretary-General also underlined that there is no military solution to the conflict and urged the sides to immediately cease all hostilities.  

He appealed to all relevant regional and international actors to actively exercise their influence to achieve an urgent end to the fighting and return to negotiations under the auspices of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs. 

Humanitarian update 

Also on Monday, at a regular press briefing, Mr. Dujarric provided a humanitarian update on Nagorno-Karabakh, noting that the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) remains deeply concerned about the ongoing hostilities along the line of contact in the conflict zone. 

“Our humanitarian colleagues tell us that the hostilities reportedly continue to cause the loss of civilian lives and injuries, as well as damage to civilian properties and infrastructure,” he said. 

“From the beginning of the latest round of hostilities to today, more than 40 civilians have reportedly been killed and more than 200 others have been wounded on both sides.  Hundreds of houses have been seriously damaged,” added the spokesperson. 

Mr. Dujarric called on all sides to respect international human rights law and international humanitarian law, in particular by ensuring the protection of the civilian population and by preventing damage to essential civilian infrastructure.   

“The UN country teams in both Yerevan and Baku stand ready to respond to humanitarian needs as they emerge. Neither government has requested international assistance from us,” he added. 

Reports of child deaths: UNICEF

In a statement released by UN Children's Fund UNICEF, the agency noted that it was now 10 days since violence "escalated dramatically" in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone.  

There are already reports of four children killed and seven injured, said the agency,  noting that "without an end to the fighting, these figures will tragically increase.

"The fighting is destroying homes, and damaging schools and other essential infrastructure.  We urge all parties to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure, from further harm, in line with international and humanitarian law."

UNICEF said that an immediate cessation of hostilities, was "in the best interest of every child."