WASHINGTON—A delegation representing leading Armenian-American organizations met with senior State Department officials this week to seek workable solutions to gaps in the delivery of U.S. and international aid to vulnerable Armenians in Syria, Armenia, and Lebanon.
In a high-level meeting held on Monday with officials of three key State Department bureaus—Population, Refugees, and Migration; Near Eastern Affairs; and European and Eurasian Affairs—the Armenian delegation underscored the urgent humanitarian needs faced by at-risk Armenians who remain, due to ongoing gaps in existing aid-delivery models, in great measure without the benefit of international assistance.
The Armenian-American delegation included Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) Chairman Ken Hachikian, ARF Eastern United States Chairman Dr. Hayg Oshagan, ARF Western United States Chairman Dr. Viken Hovsepian; Armenian Relief Society of Eastern USA Chair Talin Daghlian, ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian, and ANCA Governmental Affairs Director Kate Nahapetian.
Speaking on behalf of Armenian Americans, and reflecting the sense of urgency among Armenians worldwide, they stressed the need for U.S. policymakers to ensure the delivery of aid to at-risk Armenians in Aleppo and elsewhere throughout Syria, to provide humanitarian and housing support for Armenian refugees in Lebanon, and to leverage bilateral and international assistance to help those in Armenia transition toward self-sufficient citizenship in their homeland.
For their part, State Department officials, during the course of the hour-long meeting, offered their assurances regarding the commitment of the United States to protect the Armenian community in Syria, and expressed eagerness to engage with the Armenian-American community in addressing any gaps in the delivery of aid to Syrian Armenians—in Syria, Armenia, and Lebanon. On behalf the State Department, they voiced their appreciation for the opportunity to meet with Armenian-American leaders, welcomed the exploration of constructive means of addressing the community’s concerns, and encouraged Armenian-American organizations to submit grant proposals to implement government-funded programs to assist Syrians refugees and internally displaced persons.
The ANCA is working with Congress to expand U.S. assistance for Syrian Armenians as part of the FY 2016 foreign aid bill, and has consistently encouraged the Obama Administration to prioritize such assistance. In March, 25 U.S. Representatives formally called on the leadership of the House Subcommittee on State-Foreign Operations to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid to Armenian, Assyrian, and other at-risk minorities in Syria, as well as targeted aid to help Armenia support thousands fleeing from Syria. A copy of the letter is available at www.anca.org/assets/pdf/032515_ArmenianCaucus_ForeignAid.pdf.
In testimony submitted to this panel, ANCA Government Affairs Director Kate Nahapetian cited the Syrian crisis as an Armenian-American priority, and called for the allocation of additional U.S. resources to assist the community in Syria and those who have fled to Lebanon and Armenia. The text of the ANCA testimony is available at http://anca.org/press_releases/press_releases.php?prid=2422.
Armenian Americans can continue urging President Barack Obama and Congress to take decisive action in support of Syrian-Armenian relief efforts by sending an ANCA Action Alert by visiting www.anca.org/syria.