The tide has swiftly turned in the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh in an unpredictable turn of events.
After almost three decades, Azerbaijan has restored its sovereignty over Karabakh through a total victory. Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians laid down their arms, surrendered to Azerbaijan and declared that the Republic of Karabakh would no longer exist.
There are allegations of misconduct by Azerbaijanis, pushing the Armenians to flee Karabakh. More than half of 120,000 or so Armenians have already left and many more are expected to follow.
Armenians fear reprisals for their own misconduct against the Azeris during their occupation of Azerbaijan territories, including Karabakh, for the past three decades.
They are now leaving more out of fear of what could happen rather than what they have already been subjected to.
Nikol Pashinyan, Prime Minister of Armenia, said his country will look after Armenians fleeing Karabakh. However, this will become another burden for a country that is already troubled.
In the 1990s, during the first Karabakh war, there were mass movements, mostly due to ethnic cleansing and atrocities committed by Armenians in Karabakh.
According to UNHCR data, 684,000 Azeris fled Karabakh for Azerbaijan.
The massacre in the town of Hojali in Karabakh, where more than 600 Azeri civilians were murdered on 26 February 1992, was a message to Azeris in the area to leave.
Azerbaijani girl living in a train car at an IDP settlement in Sabirabad, Azerbaijan. 1990s.
As a result of Armenia's invasion & occupation of sovereign Azerbaijan in 1992, over 700,000 Azerbaijanis were forced to live in IDP camps & train cars across the country. #NeverAgain pic.twitter.com/IvuJeAWIag— Khojaly Memorial Centre (@KhojalyMemorial) February 20, 2023
In addition, 185,000 Azeris living in Armenia left for Azerbaijan. On the other side, 299,000 Armenians living in Azerbaijan fled to Armenia.
It is unclear how many Armenians in Karabakh are originally from the area and how many settled there from Armenia after the occupation in the 1990s.