Armenian Caucus Leaders Urge Biden Administration to Consider Emergency Airlift; Sanction Azerbaijan to End Artsakh Blockade

Armenian Caucus leaders; Reps. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Adam Schiff (D-CA), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) and David Valadao (R-CA), along with Anna Eshoo (D-CA), sent a letter to Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and USAID Administrator Samantha Power urging the Biden Administration officials to “use maximum pressure” with Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev to end his month-long blockade on the 120,000 Armenian people of Artsakh “before the current humanitarian crisis becomes catastrophic.”

The Armenian Caucus leaders emphasizes that the “current international strategy to reopen the Lachin Corridor is simply not working. Despite clearly documented evidence of the blockade and the tragic impact it is having on innocent civilians, President Aliyev continues to lie to the United States and the international community by stating that there is no blockade.”

“The Aliyev regime is taking premeditated steps to remove the indigenous Armenian population from Artsakh and deprive them of the opportunity to live freely, democratically, and with dignity in the land of their ancestors – a clear sign of ethnic cleansing that must not be ignored,” the letter continued.

The letter referred to the perilous situation as a “man-made humanitarian crisis,” which has resulted in acute shortages in Artsakh of medicine, medical treatments, and food, as well as the closure of schools. In addition, the Aliyev regime has cut off natural gas supply and prevented the repair of transmission lines, resulting in rolling blackouts during the brutally cold months of winter, which is “clearly a deliberate attempt to severely worsen the quality of life for the people living in Artsakh, including 30,000 children, 20,000 elderly and 9,000 people with disabilities.”

The Congressional leaders made clear that “without immediate action by the United States, there is little doubt that conditions in Artsakh will further deteriorate – Aliyev’s deliberate and planned design. The people of Artsakh need the international community to immediately intervene and avert this potential humanitarian catastrophe. We urge you to work swiftly with our partners, including authorities in Artsakh, and use whatever diplomatic tools necessary to compel Azerbaijan to reopen this vital lifeline, as well as send international observers to the Lachin Corridor and Artsakh to explore opportunities for more effective and sustainable guarantees of security and peaceful development for the people of Artsakh. The United States must also consider all available options to provide humanitarian aid to Artsakh, including a potential airlift of supplies to prevent the very real threat of starvation.”

Lastly, the letter underscores the” threat of sanctions such as Magnitsky Sanctions against the authorities behind this blockade is warranted and appropriate given the grave threat the people of Artsakh are currently facing.”

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