Statement by the WHO Regional Director for Europe on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

  • WHO remains concerned regarding the escalation in hostilities in the areas of and around Nagorno-Karabakh.

Since late September, the violence has displaced tens of thousands of civilians, injured hundreds and killed many. Our deepest thoughts are with every family, every member of the community affected.

The hostilities are already contributing to a dramatic acceleration in COVID-19 transmission. Continued cycles of violence and subsequent population displacement will exacerbate the precariousness of the health situation.

The conflict is causing a direct disruption to health care, further burdening health systems that are already stretched by the pandemic. This comes at a time when COVID-19 case numbers across the WHO European Region continue to surge.

WHO calls for no time lost nor efforts unspent in protecting lives and livelihoods from a public health threat unprecedented in our lifetimes.

WHO urges all parties to the conflict to protect civilians and health-care facilities caring for the wounded and sick in line with international humanitarian law. In the context of COVID-19, it is especially crucial that all health workers are kept safe from violence so they can sustain the pandemic response.

An immediate cessation of hostilities is vital to preserve access to health services – a fundamental human right.

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