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Int’l community urged to back Azerbaijan’s demining efforts

19 April 2022 15:29 (UTC+04:00)
Int’l community urged to back Azerbaijan’s demining efforts

Azerbaijani Human Rights Commissioner Sabina Aliyeva has urged the international community to take a firm stance in supporting Azerbaijan’s demining efforts, the ombudsman's office reported on April 19.

“As the Ombudsman of Azerbaijan, I once again express my grave concern over the threat posed by landmines, remind Armenia of its commitments to respect international law, and call on international organizations to show support for Azerbaijan by taking a fair and decisive stance in this matter,” Aliyeva stressed.

The landmine problem in Azerbaijan’s liberated areas has not only delayed the return of IDPs to their homes but has also claimed the lives of many people or given them lifelong disabilities. After the end of the 44-day war with Armenia in 2020, about 200 Azerbaijanis were killed or injured in mine explosions, she underlined.

The ombudsperson highlighted that another such tragedy was prevented on April 18 during a trip organized for Kalbajar region’s Gunashli village residents to visit their homes.

As a result of the cautious behavior of an Azerbaijani army serviceman, who was accompanying one of the residents, an anti-tank mine was discovered in the village, saving the lives of 20 people, including the residents, government and media representatives.

It is believed that these mines, which could cause mass casualties, were planted during the period given to the Armenians to vacate Kalbajar region in 2020 following the trilateral statement signed by the Azerbaijani, Armenian and Russian leaders on a complete ceasefire and termination of all hostilities.

Unfortunately, in response to Azerbaijan's humanist approach, Armenia's criminal actions threaten the lives of innocent people. In June last year, an anti-tank mine exploded in the same area, killing two journalists and a government official, the statement recalled.

The human rights commissioner underlined that Armenia's planting of mines near civilian settlements and the failure to provide accurate mine maps despite numerous calls from Azerbaijan violate a number of fundamental human rights and international humanitarian laws.

Despite Azerbaijan’s repeated appeals to international organizations in this regard, no results have been achieved, Aliyeva emphasized.

Although 18 months have passed since the 44-day war between Azerbaijan and Armenia, the latter's land mines continue to endanger human lives in the liberated lands

Almost every day, there is news of civilians or military personnel being injured or killed as a result of mine explosions in these lands.

On April 16, an anti-tank mine was discovered on the road in liberated Kalbajar’s Gunashli village during a visit of a group of inhabitants to their houses.

The mine was discovered thanks to the professionalism and vigilance of the Defence Ministry’s mine-sweeping personnel.

A total of 20 people, including Kalbajar residents, government agencies' representatives and an ITV film crew visited the region. Mine-searching soldier Mardali Ashurov detected the anti-tank mine on the bus route carrying the crew.

If the mine had not been discovered and the delegation had not been notified promptly, the bus carrying them would have exploded as a result of the mine blast, killing all passengers.

The preliminary investigations revealed that the anti-tank mine was planted in the area between November 10 to 25, 2020, to cause mass casualties against the civilians, who would return to their homes following Kalbajar’s handover as a result of a trilateral statement signed by the Armenian, Azerbaijani and Russian leaders to end the war in 2020.

This fact demonstrates that Armenia is continuing its mine warfare against Azerbaijan's civilian population. It should be noted that approximately 80 percent of the mine maps submitted by Armenia to Azerbaijan are incorrect.

Armenia appears to be committing war crimes by concealing the locations of landmines, allowing more innocent people to be killed.

Despite certain nations' support for Azerbaijan's demining activities in the liberated regions, the majority of countries and international organizations specializing in the field have not taken sufficient actions to help Azerbaijan.

Armenia deliberately and constantly planted mines on Azerbaijani territories, in violation of the 1949 Geneva Convention, thereby being a major threat to regional peace, security and cooperation.

Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a Russia-brokered ceasefire agreement on November 10, 2020, to end 44 days of fighting and work toward a comprehensive resolution.

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