Geneva (ICRC) – As the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict escalates, a surge in attacks using heavy explosive weaponry on populated areas is taking a deadly toll on civilians, the International Committee of the Red Cross said on Sunday.
"The ICRC strongly condemns the reported indiscriminate shelling and other alleged unlawful attacks using explosive weaponry in cities, towns and other populated areas, in which civilians are losing their lives and suffering terrible injuries, including life-changing ones,” said Martin Schüepp, ICRC Eurasia regional director in Geneva.
“All feasible measures must be taken to protect and spare civilians and civilian infrastructures like hospitals, schools, and markets. Water supply for civilians must also be protected. These are obligations under international humanitarian law,” Schüepp continued.
Fighting across the region has reportedly killed and injured scores of civilians on both sides of the line of contact since September 27. In recent days, there has been an increase in the use of heavy and explosive weaponry in populated areas.
Hundreds of homes and key infrastructures like hospitals and schools have been destroyed or damaged by heavy artillery fire and by airborne attacks including missiles. Other infrastructures such as roads, electricity, gas, and communication networks have also been damaged. Families are on the move looking for safe shelter, while others have retreated underground to unheated basements sheltering day and night from violence.
The use of explosive weapons with a wide impact area against military targets in populated areas may violate international humanitarian law, which prohibits indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks. The ICRC considers that explosive weapons with a wide impact area should be avoided in populated areas unless sufficient mitigation measures are taken to limit their wide-area effects and the consequent risk of civilian harm.
Note to Editors:
The International Committee of the Red Cross is an independent, neutral organization ensuring humanitarian protection and assistance for victims of armed conflict and other situations of violence. It acts in response to emergencies and promotes respect for international humanitarian law and its implementation in national law.
The ICRC has been present in the region since 1992 carrying out humanitarian work in connection with the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Through the delegations in Baku and Yerevan and the mission in Nagorno-Karabakh, the ICRC supports communities living along the line of contact and the international border between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
For more details on the impact on the civilian population, please visit the ICRC’s website.
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