The world body and the government of Azerbaijan have agreed on a mission to the Nagorno-Karabakh region, said a UN spokesperson on Friday.
The mission, which will allow UN access to the disputed region for the first time in about 30 years, will take place over the weekend, said Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
It will be led by Ramesh Rajasingham, the director of the Coordination Division of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), and by UN Resident Coordinator in Azerbaijan Vladanka Andreeva, he said.
“We haven’t had access there in about 30 years. So it’s very important that we will be able to get in. … 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,” he said.
The focus will be on humanitarian affairs and also, as part of that, on issues of civilian protection. But there is no representative of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights going on the mission, said the spokesperson.
“The issue of human rights, of the respect of the rights of minorities and international law, remains very high on our concerns. We’ve also taken note of the statements made by the Azerbaijani government, in which they were very clear in saying they will respect the rights of minorities,” he said.
The mission is an initial one and will be made up of fewer than 10 people, he said. Armenia and Azerbaijan have been at loggerheads over the mountainous region since 1988. Peace talks have been held since 1994 when a cease-fire was agreed on.
But there have been sporadic minor clashes since then. A new round of major armed conflict broke out along the contact line in September 2020, before Russia brokered a new cease-fire agreement in November 2020.
The latest escalation occurred on Sept. 19, 2023, followed by a Russian-brokered cease-fire the next day.