Bishops asks about cluster munition use, protection of refugees, cultural and religious sites in Nagorno Karabakh

On 7th December written answers were published to questions from the Bishops of Coventry, Leeds and Southwark on the conflict in Nagorno Karabakh:

Nagorno Karabakh: Cluster Munitions
The Lord Bishop of Leeds:  To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the use, if any, of cluster munitions during the recent conflict in the Nagorno-Karabakh region. [HL10621]

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: We are aware of allegations that cluster munitions were deployed in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The Minister for the European Neighbourhood and the Americas has raised the alleged use of cluster munitions with both the Armenian and Azerbaijani Foreign Ministers.


Nagorno Karabakh: Peace Negotiations
The Lord Bishop of Leeds: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assurances they have sought for the safety and rights of Armenian populations in territories ceded to Azeri control under the ceasefire agreement brokered by the government of Russia. [HL10620]
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: The UK Government welcomes the ceasefire agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The Minister for the European Neighbourhood and the Americas spoke to Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Bayramov on the 13 November and welcomed Azerbaijan’s commitment to keep the Lachin Corridor open to allow the free movement of people between Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia. The governments of both Azerbaijan and Armenia should continue to work closely with the Minsk Group Co-Chairs to ensure the safety and protection of all civilians.

Nagorno Karabakh: Cultural Heritage
The Lord Bishop of Southwark: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they have taken to protect Armenian cultural and religious sites following the Russian-brokered ceasefire agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan. [HL10641]
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the government of Azerbaijan about the reported destruction of sites of Armenian cultural and religious significance. [HL10642]
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: The UK Government is concerned by reports that both sides in the recent conflict have desecrated and destroyed cultural heritage sites. We have not made an assessment of the vulnerability of religious and cultural sites in Nagorno-Karabakh but have urged both parties to respect the cultural heritage of the region. We support UNESCO’s efforts to assess the impact of fighting on sites of cultural significance.
The Minister for the European Neighbourhood and the Americas has been in regular contact with the Armenian and Azerbaijani Foreign Ministers since the outbreak of hostilities in September. The Minister welcomed the news of the peace deal. She noted that a peaceful settlement was essential to securing the stability of the region; this included the protection of all cultural heritage sites. The British Ambassador to Azerbaijan also raised this issue with representatives of the Presidential Administration on 17 November.

Nagorno Karabakh: Minorities
The Lord Bishop of Coventry:  To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to provide for the protection for minority communities in the Nagorno-Karabakh region. [HL10585]
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: We are monitoring the situation closely and are engaging with both the Armenia and Azerbaijani Governments to highlight the importance of protecting all civilians in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, including minority groups.

Nagorno Karabakh: Refugees
The Lord Bishop of Coventry:  To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to address the humanitarian needs of people in Armenia who have been displaced by the conflict in the Nagorno-Karabakh region. [HL10586]
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: On 30 October the Foreign Secretary announced £1 million in funding to the ICRC to support their humanitarian efforts in the region. We are working with international partners and NGOs to understand needs in the region and what further support we can provide.
The UK Government is supporting the wider international response by funding additional monitoring and analysis of the humanitarian situation through organisations such as the Humanitarian 2 Humanitarian network and supporting additional posts within the UN offices in-country.
We continue to urge both sides to ensure the safety and security of all displaced persons including through recent calls between the Minister for the European Neighbourhood and the Americas and the Armenian and Azerbaijani Foreign Ministers.
The UK Government is keeping the situation under close review, coordinating with local and international partners and will continue to explore opportunities to support partners to deliver an effective international response.