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International Relations - Azerbaijan and Armenia

A couple of weeks ago, I was treated to a surprise visit in my electorate office by students of the AGBU Alexander Primary School in Duffys Forest in my electorate of Mackellar. AGBU is an independent, co-educational, bilingual English and Armenian Christian school. While I'm absolutely delighted to have received a visit from these year 5 and 6 students, they came with a very serious message. The students presented me with a letter they had written, asking me to address the Australian parliament on a very important matter: the ongoing blockade of the Lachin corridor in Artsakh since 12 December 2022, as part of the ongoing conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia.

The Lachin corridor is a road that connects the Republic of Artsakh to the Republic of Armenia. The letter went on to explain how the supply of food and medicine is running dangerously low as a result of the blockade, and gas supply between Armenia and Artsakh has been cut off. The AGBU students talked about how they find the situation distressing, because children their age are suffering—and children are not the only ones. Amnesty International has reported that some 120,000 ethnic Armenian residents in this region are without access to essential goods and services, including life-saving medication and health care. Interviews conducted with health workers and residents in the region revealed the blockade's particularly harsh impact on at-risk groups, including women, older people and people with disabilities. 

There is a vibrant Armenian community in my electorate of Mackellar, and I've had many representations from those people in addition to the schoolchildren. On their behalf, I have made representations to Foreign Minister Wong's office about this ongoing crisis and met with foreign department specialists to discuss the matter. At this time of increasing geopolitical uncertainty, it's important we keep a close eye on the situation in the Republic of Artsakh, listen to the international observers and provide the Mackellar Armenian community with as much support and information as possible. The crisis affecting the people of Artsakh must not be forgotten or overlooked while the world is distracted by Russia's invasion of Ukraine.