Samatha Power (left), head of USAID, meets Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, Yerevan, September 25, 2023

US Signals Aid to Karabakh Refugees


YEREVAN (Combined Sources) — The United States indicated its readiness to provide aid to Nagorno-Karabakh’s residents taking refuge in Armenia as the head of the US Agency for International Development (USAID), Samantha Power, visited the country on Monday, September 25.

Power, who was accompanied by US Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasian Affairs Yuri Kim, arrived in Yerevan amid an intensifying exodus of Karabakh’s ethnic Armenian population that followed last week’s military offensive launched by Azerbaijan. She said at the start of her trip that she will “speak directly with those affected by the humanitarian crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh.”

The crisis was high on the agenda of the US officials’ talks with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan held later in the day. In her opening remarks at the talks, Power said the USAID is ready to help Armenian authorities provide the arriving refugees with accommodation and other assistance. She said Washington will also “encourage other countries to do the same.”

Power handed Pashinyan a letter from US President Joe Biden in which the latter pledged to work with the Armenian government in addressing “humanitarian needs stemming from the recent violence in Nagorno-Karabakh.” The USAID chief will discuss details of that assistance during her visit, Biden wrote.

He added in his letter, “The United States is committed to work with your government and addressing humanitarian needs emerging from the latest violence, which Administrator Power will discuss with you in depth. We will also continue to strengthen our cooperation on energy diversification, resilience, and security, as demonstrated by our recent military exercises.

“Armenia’s rich history has inspired nations and people everywhere to strive for liberty and justice. And the Armenian-American community continues to be a source of strength in my own country. In the year ahead, I hope to continue to further deepen and strengthen the bonds between our nations – and our people.”

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“The United States is deeply concerned about reports on the humanitarian conditions in Nagorno-Karabakh and calls for unimpeded access for international humanitarian organizations and commercial traffic,” the US Embassy in Yerevan said in a statement on the trip.

The United States government is allocating $11.5 million in humanitarian aid to meet the needs of the forcibly displaced people from Nagorno-Karabakh, Power announced on September 26 during a visit to the Armenian village of Kornidzor.

“It is very difficult to hear and see what these families are going through. Many left their towns and villages under shelling,” she said.

The USAID chief met with medics who told her that many of the forcibly displaced persons have malnutrition.

Power also met with people whose loved ones are missing.

Power said it is necessary for international monitors and humanitarian organizations to have access to Nagorno-Karabakh to provide assistance to those in need on the ground.

International Aid

The European Union (EU) also announced aid in the form of 5 million euros in response to the increasing needs resulting from the Nagorno-Karabakh crisis, the European Commission’s press service said in a statement.

“The conflict escalation and subsequent ceasefire is expected to trigger a mass exodus of people from Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia, with approximately 13 500 refugees having crossed the border already. At the same time, there is a major food shortage and lack of access to electricity and water within the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave,” the European Commission said.

The funding will assist people displaced from Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia. This aid will be delivered by various EU humanitarian partners operating in Armenia to reach around 25 000 people. The priority is to provide cash assistance, shelter, food security and livelihoods assistance.

This aid will be channeled through the International Committee of Red Cross and aims to support around 60,000 people with food, healthcare, shelter and logistics.

In addition, Japan announced it is ready to make effort and provide support for overcoming the social issues of the forcibly displaced persons from Nagorno-Karabakh, Japan’s Ambassador to Armenia Masanori Fukushima said during a meeting with Armenia’s Minister of Labor and Social Affairs Narek Mkrtchyan.

Sweden has allocated over $1.3 million to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to meet the urgent needs of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh, Ambassador of Sweden to Armenia Patrik Svensson said on X.

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