WASHINGTON, DC – Over 30 U.S. Senators have joined the more than 75 U.S. Representatives in seeking increased Fiscal Year 2021 Artsakh funding for The HALO Trust’s de-mining efforts and much-needed rehabilitation services, like those provided by the Lady Cox Rehabilitation Center, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
The Senate letter – circulated by Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Ranking Member of the Foreign Relations Committee – calls on the bipartisan leadership of the Appropriations Committee to mandate at least $1.5 million in FY21 assistance for U.S. humanitarian programs in Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh). This humanitarian aid program, long under attack by Azerbaijan’s Aliyev regime, has been aggressively targeted by the Trump administration, even as it ramps up US defense and security aid to Baku.
The letter also asks for robust funding for Nagorno-Karabakh-based regional rehabilitation services for survivors of landmine injuries and individuals with physical and cognitive disabilities. Among programs that could potentially be supported by such aid is the Lady Cox Rehabilitation Center in Stepanakert, which treats 1,000 patients in-house a year, and provides more than 24,000 out-patient treatments. Despite its remarkable progress, the Center still only meets 20% of the needs of the local population, leaving as many as 60,000 regional patients without adequate rehabilitation services.
Joining Senator Menendez in co-signing the letter were Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Benjamin Cardin (D-MD), Robert Casey (D-PA), Chris Coons (D-DE), Catherine Cortez-Masto (D-NV), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Edward Markey (D-MA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Christopher Murphy (D-CT), Gary Peters (D-MI), Jack Reed (D-RI), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Bernard Sanders (I-VT), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).
“This strong showing of Senate support – on top of the recent House letter signed by more than 75 Representatives, and the overwhelming adoption of the Valadao and Cox amendments – clearly establishes Congressional intent to continue U.S. humanitarian aid to Artsakh, despite the senseless, heartless attempts by the Administration to kill this life-saving program,” said Aram Hamparian, Executive Director of the ANCA. “We want to thank Senator Menendez for his strong leadership on this issue, and look forward to continuing our work in both houses of Congress to defend the Artsakh aid program.”
HALO USA Executive Director Chris Whatley concurred, noting, “We are thrilled to see this overwhelming display of support for our demining program in Nagorno Karabakh, and are grateful to Senator Menendez and the many Senators who consistently fight to ensure that HALO’s life-saving work can continue. Given our recent efforts to support the local population of Karabakh in the fight against COVID-19 in addition to our work addressing the threat of landmines, HALO’s presence in the region has never been more important.”
Over ten-thousand pro-Artsakh advocates called on Senators to take action through the ANCA’s Rapid Rapid responder system, responding to a nationwide call to action put out by the organization. Expanded U.S. assistance to Artsakh is a part of the ANCA’s 360-degree policy priorities.
In March of this year, more than 75 U.S. Representatives signed a similar letter calling on House appropriators to fund Artsakh aid. Last year, 22 Senators and 89 Representatives cosigned bipartisan letters defending the USAID-funded HALO-Trust de-mining program in Artsakh. In 2017 and again in 2019 the U.S. House passed amendments supporting continued U.S. aid to Artsakh.