“The fighting may have stopped, but the damage it caused will continue to cost lives without robust action by the international community.”

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was joined today by Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) in urging the Senate Appropriations Committee to explicitly allocate robust funding in the final FY21 appropriations bill to address the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the south Caucasus. In a letter to Senators Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs, Senators Menendez and Portman emphasized the severity of the crisis and the paramount importance of American assistance.

“The humanitarian situation in the south Caucasus is dire, and it will only grow worse as winter approaches,” the Senators wrote, describing how, against the backdrop of COVID-19, the recent Turkish-backed conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia has wreaked long-term infrastructural damage on the region and has displaced more than half of Nagorno-Karabakh’s ethnic Armenian population, including 90 percent of the region’s women and children. “The fighting may have stopped, but the damage it caused will continue to cost lives without robust action by the international community.”

In addition to requesting robust funding for rehabilitation services in Nagorno-Karabakh, Ranking Member Menendez and Senator Portman also requested the Senate appropriate specific funds for clearing mines and unexploded ordnance, a need that has grown significantly in the wake of the recent violence.

“The United States must continue our longstanding tradition of funding humanitarian aid for those who need it most, like the thousands of ethnic Armenians displaced from their homes or otherwise affected by the violence,” the Senators added. “By including the provisions listed above in the final State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs appropriations bill, you can help blunt the devastating effects of the recent violence and continue America’s proud tradition of humanitarian assistance.”

The Armenian Council of America has requested and is actively advocating for $100 million in emergency humanitarian aid for Armenia be included in the final version of the FY2021 State-Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill.

“We applaud Senators Menendez and Portman for their bipartisan approach to the human rights catastrophe inflicted on the Armenians in the South Caucuses by Turkey and Azerbaijan. Congress must act quickly to defend Armenian democracy from the decay of despotism.” stated Taniel Koushakjian, Armenian Council of America’s Washington D.C. Representative.

A copy of the Senators’ letter is HERE.

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