The internationally guaranteed right to water for the residents of Meghri in Armenia’s Syunik province is being seriously violated by the deliberate actions of the Azerbaijani armed forces, Armenia’s Human Rights Defender Arman Tatoyan reported.
He said he has received alarming and disturbing information from the residents of Meghri that about five years ago the Azerbaijani Armed Forces changed the riverbed fed by the Zvaraget tributary of the Meghri River to Nakhichevan.
As a result, serious problems have emerged due to lack of drinking and irrigation water in the cities of Meghri and Agarak, as well as the villages of Nrnadzor, Shvanidzor, Alvank, where the majority of Meghri’s population lives.
“The Meghri River has always been the source of drinking and irrigation water for Meghri. The Zvaraget (or Ayrijur) tributary starts about 3,500 meters above sea level. It rises from the southeastern slopes of the Zangezur Mountains and then joins the Meghri River. Due to snowmelt, Zvaraget overflows every August, which secures the full supply of drinking and irrigation water for Meghri. Without this, the Meghri River provides water only from the beginning of each year to June or July, and then the water supply becomes very scarce, and in Meghri, the river generally dries up. Serious damage has already been caused to the environment of the Meghri community,” explained Tatoyan.
Residents and the head of the Meghri community have informed the Human Rights Defender that every month the Azerbaijani military creates brakes with special engineering equipment and thus changes the course of the tributary to Nakhichevan.
“The right to water is guaranteed internationally. This right includes the human right to have sufficient water for both continuous drinking and domestic use (irrigation, hygiene, etc.). At the same time, there must be not only a safe access to water, but also a full access to it. This right has a unique value and is at the heart of other human rights to life, health, dignity and privacy,” Tatoyan added.
The Human Rights Defender’s Office of Armenia is currently summarizing the absolute and unequivocal internationally guaranteed rights of the people of Armenia to drinking and irrigation water and the infringement upon these rights by the Azerbaijani Armed Forces.