Five months after AGBU launched its massive warm meal distribution effort for Artsakh refugees in partnership with World Central Kitchen (WCK), it has expanded its humanitarian outreach with a warm winter initiative. With the distribution of 14,000 portable space heaters in January alone, 60,000 displaced individuals can find added comfort in their new dwellings.

“Now, as the seasonal frost sets in, especially in the regions of Armenia, we are rushing to lend another helping hand to ease the day-to-day burdens of the Artsakh community,” explained AGBU Director of Humanitarian Programs Inessa Margaryan, based in Yerevan.

Margaryan went on to say, “When the humanitarian crisis started last September, we prioritized food insecurity by preparing over 400,000 warm meals and 28,000 food boxes for those who had endured dire living conditions and malnutrition for over nine months prior to Azerbaijan’s final phase of ethnic cleansing in Artsakh. Now that many evacuees are situated in various types of shelters, many with inadequate heating, the need for supplementary sources of warmth is more acute.”

Distribution centers are organized in collaboration with local municipalities and town halls across Armenia, where beneficiaries can pick up the heaters on a first-come, first-served basis. Among the beneficiaries is 44-year-old Liana Israelyan from Stepanakert. She expressed her gratitude for AGBU’s efforts, saying, “We are a family of 12, and the new place is extremely cold. The heaters help us withstand the winter.”

Between November 29 and February 3, 25 volunteers from all around the world joined forces through AGBU ACT (Armenians Come Together), a service program that attracts diaspora Armenians who wish to help uplift Armenian lives through humanitarian expeditions. The volunteers helped distribute some of the heaters during two sessions of ACT.

ACT participant Stacey Terterian from the U.S. shared her thoughts: “It is deeply rewarding for me to have the chance to engage with these families, to hear their stories, and demonstrate to them that they are not alone during this critical time in their lives. I believe we provide them not just physical aid in the form of tangible goods, but also the warmth of human interaction and compassion.”

Due to the outpouring of donations to the AGBU Global Relief Fund, the organization not only has the capacity to provide practical solutions to evolving needs on the ground, but also to implement a multifaceted approach to sustainable settlement for Artsakh Armenians in Armenia. This currently includes free health care and mental health assessments, job placement assistance, adult education and skills training, plus therapeutic retreats for traumatized children and their parents at AGBU Camp Nairi.

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