The situation in Nagorno-Karabakh, a region of the Caucasus disputed by Armenia and Azerbaijan, remains very tense, a week after an Azerbaijani offensive which left at least 20 dead and more than 280 injured. Thousands of residents of Nagorno-Karabakh are seeking to flee. At least 28,000 of them have already found refuge in the country, Armenian authorities said, citing a new count. But thousands of refugees continue to flock to the Armenian border, hoping to find shelter in this country.

The head of American diplomacy, Antony Blinken, called on Azerbaijan to respect its commitments to protect civilians in Nagorno-Karabakh and to allow access for humanitarian aid there, in a telephone call to President Ilham Aliev. “The Secretary of State spoke again with President Aliyev today and emphasized the urgency of ending hostilities, ensuring the unconditional protection and freedom of movement of civilians, and ensuring access unhindered humanitarian action in Nagorno-Karabakh,” State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller told reporters.

France, which recalled on Tuesday that it would hold Azerbaijan “fully responsible for the fate of the Armenian population”, estimated that the “massive” exodus of Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh is taking place “under the complicit eye of Russia”, which deployed a peacekeeping force in this breakaway region in 2020.

Monday evening, in the midst of an exodus, a fuel depot exploded in the enclave mainly populated by Armenians, killing at least 20 people and injuring 280, the Nagorno-Karabakh authorities announced on Tuesday, who requested urgent external assistance to deal with this catastrophe. “Dozens of patients remain in critical condition,” they said in a statement. Among the dead, thirteen have not been identified and the bodies will be subjected to forensic analyses, according to the same source.

Some passed on foot. “They expelled us,” one man said as he walked past the Azerbaijani soldiers. On Monday, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev reaffirmed the promise that the rights of Armenians in the enclave would be “guaranteed.” The head of state spoke alongside his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a key player in the region, just a few days after the victory of Azerbaijani soldiers against the troops of the self-proclaimed “republic” of Nagorno-Karabakh – attached to 1921 to Azerbaijan by Soviet power.

The European Union was to receive this Tuesday in Brussels senior representatives of Armenia and Azerbaijan, two former Soviet republics which clashed militarily in Nagorno-Karabakh from 1988 to 1994 (30,000 dead) and in the fall 2020 (6,500 deaths). The death toll from last week’s blitzkrieg invasion is 200, according to the Armenian side.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian and the Azerbaijani President will meet on October 5 in Granada, Spain, with the participation of French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and European Council President Charles Michel, a meeting planned long-standing which has not been cancelled.