Public transport in Nagorno-Karabakh to stop due to severe fuel shortages

De facto authorities in Nagorno-Karabakh have announced that all public transport in the region will be temporarily suspended on Tuesday (25 July) due to severe fuel shortages resulting from a months-long tightening of Azerbaijani control of supply lines into and out of the region in what has been widely characterised as a blockade.

On Monday (24 July) it was announced that Nagorno-Karabakh has run out of scarce fuel reserved for buses and minibuses. Public transport in Stepanakert was already suspended and bus services with other Karabakh towns and villages were curtailed earlier this month for the same reason.

The vast majority of vehicles in Nagorno-Karabakh are powered by natural gas which was supplied from Armenia before being pressurised and sold at local gas stations. A steady flow of the gas was disrupted shortly after self-described Azerbaijani "eco-protesters" blocked commercial traffic through the Lachin corridor last December.

Most recently, a gas pipeline feeding Nagorno-Karabakh was most recently unblocked for just a few hours on 8 July, before being blocked again.

RFE/RL reports that the fuel crisis has not only disrupted travel but also complicated food supplies inside Nagorno-Karabakh. Local farmers now have trouble taking their produce to markets, and there are growing problems with the delivery of flour to bakeries.

Months of reported shortages of key supplies in Nagorno-Karabakh

For months, de facto authorities and residents in Nagorno-Karabakh have complained of shortages of key supplies, including food, fuel, energy and medicines.

Questions have been raised about the impact of Azerbaijani actions on the Lachin corridor on the local population of Nagorno-Karabakh, and on 19 June de facto authorities in the region announced they were suspending all essential surgeries and checkups as shortages of key medical supplies worsen.

On 11 July, Azerbaijan banned Red Cross medical evacuations from Nagorno-Karabakh alleging smuggling attempts from Armenia into Azerbaijan, however recently Baku lifted the ban requiring those patients to be checked by Azerbaijani medical personnel while passing through its checkpoint in the Lachin corridor.

The United States, the European Union and Russia have repeatedly called for Azerbaijan to lift its blockade of the region. Baku has however dismissed their appeals, arguing that the situation on the ground does not constitute a blockade.

source: with agencies
photo: AFP via RFE/RL