US official: "Very troubling reports of violence against civilians" in Nagorno-Karabakh
While Karabakh refugees reaching Armenia grow daily by thousands, a US government official who visited Yerevan after Azerbaijan's military offensive in Nagorno-Karabakh on 19 September said that "very troubling reports of violence against civilians" in the region have been received.
Asked on Tuesday if she believed Azerbaijani forces had committed atrocities against civilians or combatants in Nagorno-Karabakh, Samantha Power, the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), said:
"We have heard very troubling reports of violence against civilians. At the same time given the chaos here and the trauma, the gathering of testimonies of the people who have come across is something that is just beginning."
The number of Karabakh residents who took refuge in Armenia after Azerbaijan's offensive reached 19,000 as of mid Tuesday, Russian news agency TASS cited Armenian deputy prime minister Tigran Khachatryan as saying.
Only a couple of hours earlier, TASS had put the figure at 13,550.
It cited the Armenian government saying in a statement, "All citizens who do not have a specified place of residence will be provided with housing by the government."
Hundreds of cars and buses crammed with belongings snaking down the mountain road out of Azerbaijan, and some fled packed into the back of open-topped trucks, others on tractors, Reuters said in a report.
USAID Administrator Power also announced today that the US government is allocating 11,5 million dollars in emergency humanitarian aid to meet the needs of the forcibly displaced people from Nagorno-Karabakh.
Azerbaijan's lightning offensive and the immediate control it established in the Armenian-populated enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh has sparked an exodus as Baku made clear that it will rule with a heavy hand and does not intend to tolerate any degree of self-government.
Photo: Refugees from Nagorno-Karabakh ride in the back of a truck as they arrive in the border village of Kornidzor, Armenia, on 26 September (Reuters)