News
17 November 2020

Christians among thousands killed in fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan; ceasefire agreed

A ceasefire between Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia was agreed on Monday 9 November, ending six weeks’ fighting that killed thousands, including Christians.


Azerbaijan

A rural scene from Azerbaijan; your prayers are needed following weeks of fighting between Azerbaijan and Armenia in which thousands were killed, including Christians

Christians are among thousands of people tragically killed in six weeks of fighting over a land dispute between Azerbaijan and Armenia. A ceasefire between the nations and Russia was signed on Monday 9 November, bringing an end to the fighting. However, unrest persists, and families and churches have been left devastated by the recent violence. 

What caused the conflict in the first place?

The reason for the heavy fighting is Nagorno-Karabakh, a region internationally recognised as Azerbaijani but mostly run by ethnic Armenians and backed by the Armenian government since 1994. 

"Families and churches have been left devastated by the recent violence."

This was the culmination of a bloody war that begun in the late 1980s, and it’s been the trigger for ongoing violence ever since. The recent spate of violence began on 27 September.

Under the new peace agreement, Armenia will return control of the areas it took during the initial conflict to Azerbaijan. They will also hand over adjacent territories in the region. Troops will be withdrawn from its positions and 2,000 Russian peacekeepers will be put in place. 

The move is aimed at stopping further bloodshed and provide a platform for a permanent peace between the nations. However ethnic Armenians don’t see it that way; they see it as a concession of war and favouring Azerbaijan. 

How have Christians been affected?

Sadly, it is understood that many Christians in Azerbaijan from Muslim backgrounds have been killed in the recent fighting, including church leaders. In Armenia, Orthodox and Protestant Christians have been killed, as have believers from Yezidi backgrounds. 

Several churches in the two countries have been bombed and seriously damaged, including properties where two small house groups met.

There is also concern that 1,600 historic Armenian Christian monuments, chapels and artefacts in areas now held by Azeri soldiers and Syrian Islamic militants will be destroyed, thus damaging the region’s Christian heritage.

Azerbaijan is mostly Muslim, whilst Armenia is majority Christian. There is an intensely strong hatred between the two nations, and Christians can get caught up in this. 

Armenian anger and Covid-19 fear

Whilst the ceasefire has been greeted with celebration in Baku, Azerbaijan, there is anger in Armenia. 

"People in both countries are scared."

Government buildings have been vandalised by protestors calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and his cabinet. His office has reportedly been looted. Meanwhile, the speaker of parliament, Ararat Mirzoyan, is in hospital in a serious condition after being attacked.

Both Armenia and Azerbaijan have high infection rates for Covid-19. Hospitals are full and many people are not receiving proper medical care. Armenia is especially vulnerable; the virus is spreading rapidly through hotels and other accommodation where refugees are staying. People in both countries are scared. 


Please pray
  • That grieving and hurting believers will truly know the ‘God of all comfort’ (2 Corinthians 1:3) at this tremendously difficult time
  • For permanent peace between the two nations, and that Christians will be models of grace, forgiveness and joy who powerfully impact their communities
  • That the countries’ governments and healthcare systems will get effective control of coronavirus, leading to good care and the reduction in infection rates.
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