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 Friday, June 21 2024 10:21
Marianna Mkrtchyan

More than 20 US senators press Biden to sharply boost aid to Artsakh  refugees 

More than 20 US senators press Biden to sharply boost aid to Artsakh  refugees 

ArmInfo.Senate Armed Services Committee Chair Jack Reed (D-RI) and Senate Budget Committee Chair  Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), along with some twenty of their Senate colleagues, have called on President Biden to significantly increase U.S.  humanitarian aid to Armenian refugees forcibly displaced from Artsakh, work toward their safe and dignified return to their indigenous homes, and hold Azerbaijan accountable for their genocidal  actions.

The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) reports.   "With well over 115,000 Armenians still at-risk, facing challenges in  access to housing, food, power, employment, and medical care, we  welcome this principled call by Senators Reed and Whitehouse and  their colleagues for a major boost in Biden Administration  humanitarian assistance to Artsakh's Armenians," said ANCA Executive  Director Aram Hamparian. "We need to see this aid provided parallel  to concrete steps to hold Azerbaijan accountable and a sustained  American campaign to secure the safe return of Artsakh Armenians to  their indigenous homeland under international protection." In the  June 20th letter to President Biden, the Senators stress that "As we  recently recognized the 109th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide,  the United States must take steps to ensure that the persecution of  ethnic Armenians never takes place again. This includes providing  additional humanitarian and economic support to Armenia, bolstering  U.S.-Armenia ties, and holding Azerbaijan accountable, including the  possible imposition of sanctions for any human rights violations that  took place during the ethnic cleansing of Armenians from Azerbaijani  territory last year." Joining Senators Reed and Whitehouse in urging  the Biden Administration to ensure robust humanitarian assistance to  Armenia are Senators: Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Cory Booker (D-NJ),  Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Laphonza Butler (D-CA), Bob Casey (D-PA),  Richard Durbin (D-IL), John Fetterman (D-PA), Angus King (I-ME), Ed  Markey (D-MA), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Christopher Murphy (D-CT),  Alex Padilla (D-CA), Gary Peters (D-MI), Jacklyn Rosen (D-NV), Debbie  Stabenow (D-MI), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Raphael Warnock (D-GA),  Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).  Noting that Armenia  is currently housing more than 115,000 refugees, including 36,000  children, forcibly displaced by Azerbaijan, the Senators state that  it is estimated Armenia may require up to $2 billion in additional  urgent humanitarian assistance to provide ongoing resources for the  refugee population and ensure that basic needs are met. To date, the  U.S. has provided only $15 million in humanitarian assistance to  Armenia - of which only a small portion has been directly allocated  to refugees. 

In urging the United States to provide a "sizeable  amount" of this estimated humanitarian funding requirement through  funds appropriated in the recent national security supplemental  package, the Senates also call on the Biden Administration to  encourage international partners to respond in kind.  "Unfortunately,  U.S. humanitarian assistance to Armenia to date is barely a fraction  of what is needed to support Artsakh's Armenians," remarked ANCA  Eastern Region board member and ANC-Rhode Island activist, Steve  Mesrobian. "In light of this dire humanitarian crisis, we thank  Senators Reed and Whitehouse for their leadership in support of  Artsakh's Armenians - and for their continuous efforts to ensure  Azerbaijan is held accountable for its genocidal aggression." In  addition to requesting humanitarian assistance and calling for  accountability for Azerbaijan's war crimes, the Senators also urge  the United States to take a leadership role in negotiations with  Azerbaijan to ensure refugees are afforded the right to return to  their homes under safe and secure conditions with international  guarantees. While several U.S. officials have publicly expressed  support for the right of Artsakh's Armenians to return to their  homes, Washington has not taken any meaningful action to compel  Azerbaijan to uphold its international legal obligations nor  establish international protections that will ensure Artsakh's  Armenians can return to their homes free from persecution and  subjugation by Azerbaijan.  POLITICO's Miles Herszenhorn and Eric  Bazail-Eimil broke news of the Senate letter in the National Security  Daily, stating, "21 Democratic Senators are calling on the Biden  administration to allocate more humanitarian aid to Armenia to  support refugees affected by Azerbaijan's invasion of the contested  Nagorno-Karabakh exclave last September." 

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