Bread Shortage Worsens In Artsakh

By Asbarez | Tuesday, 29 August 2023

YEREVAN (—Authorities in Nagorno-Karabakh have urged local farmers to sell wheat harvested by them amid a deepening shortage of bread resulting from Azerbaijan’s eight-month blockade of the Lachin corridor.

Bread appears to have become the main staple food in Stepanakert and other Karabakh towns since Baku tightened the blockade in mid-June by halting all relief supplies to the Armenian-populated region carried out by Russian peacekeepers and the International Committee of the Red Cross. Local food stores have run out of limited amounts of other basic other foodstuffs sold in previous months.

The bread shortage worsened in recent days, with Stepanakert residents saying that they now have to spend more hours waiting in lines to buy up to loaves per person from bakeries.
“When you stand in a line you lose a whole day,” one of them, Arega Ishkhanyan, told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service. “If you queue up at six in the evening, you may have to wait until the next morning.”

“And the problem is not just bread, there is nothing else available,” she said. “But at least the kids could eat bread.”

In a statement issued on Sunday, Karabakh’s Agricultural Fund said it is supplying additional quantities of flour to bakeries to try to alleviate the problem. Underscoring its gravity, the agency said the authorities are ready to buy up all wheat grown and stored by Karabakh farmers and to swiftly pay for it in cash. It urged the farmers to sell off their wheat stocks.

The authorities are facing growing calls to introduce bread coupons and thus reduce waiting lines formed outside bakeries and shops.

The Armenian government warned in July that Karabakh is now “on the verge of starvation.” It urged the international community to put stronger pressure on Azerbaijan to lift the blockade.

The United States, the European Union and Russia have repeatedly called for renewed commercial and humanitarian traffic through the sole road connecting Karabakh to Armenia. Baku has dismissed their appeals.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev made clear on Saturday that he will not bow to the international pressure. Visiting the town of Lachin close to Karabakh’s lifeline road, Aliyev said Baku’s actions are aimed at “fully restoring Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity.”
“Nothing can force us to deviate from our path,” he said.