Kristina Aznavour, CEO of the Aznavour Foundation, Nicolas Aznavour, Co-Founder, Aznavour Foundation, and Vic Gerami

Aznavour Foundation Opens New Rehabilitation Center for Artsakh Veterans in Vanadzor, Armenia

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By Vic Gerami

Special to the Mirror-Spectator

VANADZOR, Armenia – The Aznavour Foundation, founded by the great French-Armenian singer, actor, and humanitarian and his son, Nicolas Aznavour, continuous the artist’s legacy with various projects around Armenian and Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh).

It just opened a brand new physical and psychological rehabilitation center within the Vanadzor Medical Center, located in Lori Province, for the veterans who were injured in last year’s attack by Azerbaijan that took the lives of almost 5,000 Armenians and left over 10,000 injured. The Foundation held a press conference on October 20 to make the announcement which included the participation of Armenia’s Minister of Health Anahit Avanesyan, CEO of the Aznavour Foundation Kristina Aznavour, French Ambassador to Armenia Anne Louyot and Director of the Vanadzor Medical Center Vahagn Mkrtchyan.

From left, Aznavour Foundation staff member, Kristina Aznavour, CEO of the Aznavour Foundation, Anne Louyot, the French Ambassador to Armenia, Anahit Avanesyan, Armenia’s Minister of Health, and Vahagn Mkrtchyan, Director of Vanadzor Medical Center

Until now, there were only two rehabilitation centers in Armenia, one each in the two largest cities of the country, Yerevan and Gyumri. Because of this, thousands of veterans in need of rehab did not have access to proper care due to living in small villages, rural communities, and lack of transportation.

Azerbaijan used illegal and banned weapons during the 44-day assault and ethnic cleansing that it unleashed on the Armenians of Artsakh. These weapons, such as cluster bombs and white phosphorus munitions, caused the loss of limbs and severe brain and spinal cord injuries, which require long-term medical care. The Aznavour Foundation has taken a step to decentralize medical care so people in remote communities can receive treatment.

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“The rehabilitation department in Vanadzor will allow many beneficiaries to use physical and psychological rehabilitation services. The staff of the newly established department will be in constant contact with French specialists to exchange experience and master innovative approaches. The opening of this rehabilitation center is another step towards returning our heroes to normal life,” said Avanesyan.

Within the framework of the project, Vanadzor Medical Center will receive twelve units of rehabilitation equipment, a part of which has already arrived and been installed. In addition, local specialists will have the opportunity to take part in training courses conducted by specialists from France.

‘The Aznavour Foundation started the cooperation with Armenia’s Ministry of Health during wartime. However, after the ceasefire agreement, it became obvious that the support provided to the medical sphere needs to be continuous and with a more systematic approach. This project has been developed based on this perspective,” said Kristina Aznavour.

She added, “The implementation of such an extensive project was made possible thanks to the significant co-financing by the Crisis and Support Centre of the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs. We always feel the support of the French Embassy in Armenia and are certain that we still have a lot to do together.”

Several groups of French specialists have already worked with local doctors, transferring their experience in the field, and exchanging valuable information. A group of psychologists also had meetings with the community, including children who lost relatives during the war, and held consultative talks on the prevention of post-traumatic stress disorder.

“The French government continues to support Armenia. We are happy to be part of such a strong initiative. The establishment of such centers in the regions and decentralization of services is very important for the effective operation of the system. We are full of hope that we will be able to witness the results of this great work in person,” said Ambassador Louyot.

The center will help to improve the quality of life of those affected by the war in Artsakh by providing them and their families with much needed support.

“This is a very honorable cooperation for the Vanadzor Medical Center. Together with the team of the Aznavour Foundation we were able to organize the whole process in a very short period. We have already hosted several groups of training specialists; we have also received the first batch of the rehabilitation equipment. This is a great investment for our city and region, which will serve it for a long and purposeful time,” concluded Vahagn Mkrtchyan, director of the Vanadzor Medical Center.

The project is implemented with the participation of the Crisis and Support Center of the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs. The other partners of the project are the Republic of Armenia’s Ministry of Health and Vanadzor Medical Center.

About the Aznavour Foundation

The Aznavour Foundation, created by Charles Aznavour and his son Nicolas Aznavour aims at continuing the development and implementation of educational, cultural, and social projects started by the legendary artist. Another important axis of its mission is to preserve and promote the cultural and humanitarian heritage of Charles Aznavour.

Charles Aznavour commenced his high-impact humanitarian activities after the earthquake that struck Armenia on December 7, 1988, leaving tens of thousands dead and hundreds of thousands homeless. For 30 years, his humanitarian efforts have enabled the implementation of numerous charitable programs in the country. Charles Aznavour was also involved in the fight against cancer and Alzheimer’s disease and assisted greatly the victims of the earthquake in Haiti. He always fought against any discrimination through his art and his global actions.

The Aznavour Foundation undertakes to pursue the humanitarian achievements of Charles Aznavour further and preserve and promote his heritage. See en.aznavourfoundation.org.

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