Armenia needs aid as nearly 120,000 Armenians flee Nagorno-Karabakh
By Stefan J. Bos
They were already starved of enough food and medical supplies by an Azerbaijani blockade.
But after local forces were overrun within 24 hours by Azerbaijan's more powerful military, backed by Turkey, these panicked-stricken people decided to leave forever.
The United Nations says more than 100,000 refugees have arrived in Armenia since Azerbaijan launched the military operation to retake control of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Many have arrived in the Armenian capital, Yerevan, where aid volunteer Anais Sardaryan, a famous actress in Armenia, organized an aid operation.
Sardaryan is close to tears when asked how she and her co-workers deal with the refugees arriving in Yerevan. "[I am sad] because maybe you saw the people and babies come here and say: "We are hungry and without shelters." But we can't help them all. Because now we say: 'Okay, wait. We have a list,'" she said.
"You know we have 100 volunteers, but we have 120,000 people coming. We can't help them in one day all, yes?" She didn't await an answer. "But they want, and they look into your eyes and say: 'Can you help my baby?' But you cannot say: 'Yes, your baby is good, but that baby is not good. I help you, but that baby, I don't help.'
Swarms of protesters are filling the streets of Yerevan.
They demand the prime minister's ouster, who they claim didn't do enough to protect Nagorno-Karabakh, also known to Armenians as the Republic of Artsakh. "In similar cases, there are sanctions, there are real politics, there is real pressure. In the case of Armenia, in the case of Artsakh, we don't see that from anybody," one of the protesters said.
Impoverished Armenia now faces the most significant social and political challenges in its decades of independence following the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.