Supporting The Medical Heroes Who Are Saving Lives in Artsakh

Since Day 3 of the ongoing Nagorno Karabakh conflict, Aleppo-NGO’s cuisine center has been supplying free lunch meals to the medical heroes of the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Armenia.

Hundreds of medical workers including nurses, doctors and ambulance operators have been risking their lives every day by traveling from Yerevan to the frontlines of the conflict to retrieve civilians who have been maimed as a result of the systematic bombardment of civilians and civilian targets by the forces of Ilham Aliyev, backed by Reccip Tayyab Erdogan and his Syrian mercenaries.

The targeting of civilians and civilian infrastructure during war is not only a violation of international humanitarian law (laws of war) but may amount to War Crimes.

Besides targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure, the independent investigators of Amnesty International’s Crisis Group were able to confirm the use of Israeli-made M095 DPICM Cluster Munition by Azerbaijan in civilian areas of Stepanakert.

“Cluster bombs are inherently indiscriminate weapons, and their deployment in residential areas is absolutely appalling and unacceptable,” said Denis Krivosheev, Amnesty International’s acting Head of Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

By targeting civilian areas, Ilham Aliyev is not only risking the lives of civilians but also the lives of medical workers who are attempting to retrieve and treat the wounded.

The right to health is a fundamental element of human rights which does not change in situations of conflict. Access to medical assistance for the sick and wounded, whether they have been engaged in active combat or not, is guaranteed through various international agreements, including the Geneva Convention and the Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials of the United Nations.

The primary obligation of physicians is always to their patients, and physicians have the same ethical responsibilities to preserve health and save life in situations of violence or armed conflicts as in peacetime. These are as set out in the WMA Regulations in Times of Armed Conflict and Other Situations of Violence.

It is essential to ensure the safety and personal security of healthcare workers in order to enable the provision of the highest standard of care to patients. If healthcare workers are not safe, they might not be able to provide care, and patients will suffer.

Aleppo-NGO calls upon the governments of Austria, United States, Germany, Japan, and the European Union at large, who contributed towards the establishment of Aleppo-NGO’s cuisine center in 2018, to use all the diplomatic and political tools at their disposal to pressure the government of Azerbaijan to immediately stop the attacks on civilian targets in Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh) and return to the negotiation table to explore a peaceful resolution to the conflict.

Aleppo Cuisine is Aleppo-NGO’s social enterprise employing Syrian refugee women in Armenia and promoting the protection of labor rights in the country.

“The more lunch requests we receive from the ministry, the more disheartened everyone at our cuisine becomes,” said Sarkis Balkhian, Aleppo-NGO’s Executive Director. “Because we know that more lunch meal requests means more people have been wounded and are in urgent need of medical support.”

During the course of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict, Aleppo-NGO’s cuisine center distributed more than 16,000 meals to the medical and social workers as well as refugees from Artsakh who were arriving to Yerevan.

In the framework of this effort, Aleppo-NGO collaborated with the Ministries of Health and Labor and Social Affairs of the RA Government.

As shelling continued during the day on October 4, across different locations in the city, residential buildings, cars and stores were severely damaged. © Eric Grigorian/EVN Report
Shelling over the capital of Artsakh, Stepanakert has been continuous and the sirens have been going off at all hours of the day and night. A fire breaks out after a store is hit late in the evening of October 3. © Eric Grigorian/EVN Report