Geneva -The UN rights chief voiced alarm Friday at civilian suffering in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region after nearly two weeks of clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan, calling for an “urgent ceasefire”.

In a statement, Michelle Bachelet said it was “deeply worrying that in recent days we have seen populated areas reportedly targeted and shelled with heavy weaponry in and around the conflict area.” There was a need for “an urgent ceasefire due to the impact on civilians,” the statement said. Her comment came as Armenia and Azerbaijan’s foreign ministers were due to meet in Moscow Friday amid hopes they could broker a halt to the renewed hostilities.

The fresh fighting over Karabakh -- an ethnic Armenian region of Azerbaijan that broke from Baku’s control in what prompted a devastating war in the early 1990s -- erupted late last month.

Both sides blame the other for the biggest outbreak in violence since a 1994 ceasefire.

Bachelet’s office said it had received reports that it had not yet been able to verify that some 53 civilians, including children, had been killed in the fighting since September 27.

Some 400 lives have so far been lost including military casualties, and thousands of people have fled their homes. “I remind all parties to the conflict to uphold their obligations under international humanitarian law to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure,” Bachelet said.