Thousands have fled the Nagorno-Karabakh region after fighting escalated Sept. 27. The disputed region is home to Christians, Muslims and a small community of Jews.
Many of the refugees have fled to Armenia’s capital, Yerevan, where the aid, including winter clothing, is being delivered according the Christian charity. Other refugees have fled to Azerbaijan as the countries battle over the ethnically diverse region.
“Our team is bringing more than 11 tons of winter clothes and blankets, enough for 500 families in need. The boots, coats, gloves, socks, and thermal underwear included in the shipment will be especially welcome now that temperatures are consistently dipping into the 30s,” it said.
The conflict started in the 1980s when the Soviet Union began to fall apart. While Russia brokered a ceasefire in 1994, clashes have continued. Mostly Armenians live in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, but the region is internationally recognized as a part of Azerbaijan.
“The conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan is heartbreaking,” Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan’s Purse, said. “Families are caught in the crossfire of a brutal war, and thousands have been forced to flee. Samaritan’s Purse is bringing critical relief to people in need — reminding hurting families that they are not alone and that God loves them.”
On Friday, Azeri rockets and artillery shells hit the disputed region’s capital, Stepanakert, killing three people, The Wall Street Journal reported. Reports on Monday state that the region’s capital has fallen.
According to Nagorno Karabakh’s human-rights ombudsman, about 50 Armenian civilians have been killed and at least 146 wounded.
Russia has close relations with both Armenia and Azerbaijan, but Turkey’s support of Azerbaijan, which is already involved in two proxy conflicts with Russia in Syria and Libya, has made it difficult for Moscow to mediate.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on both Azerbaijan and Armenia to “implement their commitments to a ceasefire as agreed and cease targeting civilian areas.”
“We deplore the loss of human life and remain committed to a peaceful settlement,” he wrote.