ICRC Combs Streets of ‘Deserted’ Karabakh Capital for Stranded Residents
Oct. 3, 2023
Only a few hundred people remain behind in the capital of Nagorno-Karabakh, including the sick, disabled and elderly, an International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) official said on Tuesday, describing the empty streets as “surreal”.
Azerbaijani forces took control of the enclave on its territory populated by ethnic Armenians, triggering an exodus of more than 100,000 Armenians.
“The city is now completely deserted,” said ICRC team lead Marco Succi via videolink from the Karabakh capital, known as Stepanakert by Armenia and Khankendi by Azerbaijan.
“The hospitals….are not functioning; the medical personnel left; the water board authorities left; the director of the morgue also left. So this scenario, the scene is quite surreal.”
An ICRC team was now combing the streets with megaphones seeking stranded residents, he told a Geneva press briefing. One whom they found was Susanna, an elderly, bed-ridden cancer patient who was beginning to show signs of Anaemia and malnutrition despite provisions left by her neighbours.
“On a personal note, I must say it’s quite difficult to find the most vulnerable in need, in circumstances like this and finding Susanna all on her own was really an emotional moment,” he said. She was evacuated by ambulance to Armenia.
Asked about an Azerbaijani presence in the capital, he said its police forces were patrolling the streets.
(Reporting by Emma Farge; Editing by Alex Richardson)
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