WASHINGTON, DC – The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) today renewed its call on the U.S. Department of State to immediately reprogram at least $25 million from the Congressionally appropriated aid package for Armenia to help fight the worsening COVID-19 pandemic.
“As the urgency of battling the COVID-19 pandemic grows day by day, the ANCA calls on the U.S. Department of State to accelerate reprogramming funds to help Armenia flatten the curve,” remarked ANCA Chairman Raffi Hamparian. “Any delay in reprogramming funds – at this point – will come at the cost of lives across Armenia. This is not acceptable,” added Hamparian.
In a letter sent on April 3, 2020, to the State Department making this $25 million reprogramming request, the ANCA Chairman thanked the Administration for its initial emergency allocation and expressed the Armenian American community’s appreciation for all those at the Department of State and partner agencies who are striving selflessly to represent the United States, protect American citizens, support our allies, and help end this pandemic.
On the day the ANCA letter was sent, April 3rd, there were – according to the World Health Organization – 69 new COVID-19 cases and a total of 640 confirmed cases in Armenia; on June 4th, there were 697 new cases and a total of 11,221 confirmed cases. The Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Resource Center cites an incidence rate of 398.79 per 100,000 people in Armenia.
On April 17, 2020, the Department of State confirmed to the ANCA, through a communication by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Caucasus and Eastern Europe, George Kent, that the U.S. Embassy in Yerevan is open to adjusting the existing U.S. aid program to help Armenia meet its urgent priorities related to the COVID-19 crisis. According to a June 4th RFE/RL news item, the U.S. has allocated $5.4 million in new assistance to combat COVID-19 in Armenia. A May 22nd U.S. Embassy press statement referenced that an additional $1.2 million in “previously allocated assistance” has been redirected to address the implications of COVID-19.
In its April 3rd letter, the ANCA noted to the U.S. Department of State that the European Union had already announced that it is reprogramming $33 million in existing funding to help Armenia bolster its COVID-19 efforts, and also made $18 million in additional funds available for Armenia to acquire medical devices and equipment, support small and medium-sized businesses, and help ensure that humanitarian assistance reaches low-income families.
The full text of the original ANCA letter to the U.S. Department of State is provided below and available here:
April 3, 2020
The Honorable Mike Pompeo
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20520
Dear Secretary Pompeo:
I am writing on behalf of the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) to request that you reprogram at least $25 million in funds already appropriated by Congress to assist the Republic of Armenia effectively and efficiently respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The ANCA appreciates the initial tranche of funds ($1.1 million) made available by the U.S. Department of State to Armenia in response to the pandemic following President Trump’s signing of H.R. 748, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act into law on March 27, 2020. In this regard, we also appreciate the remarks you delivered on March 26, 2020, when you stated that “our leadership in the COVID-19 response is another example of how America—our government, our businesses and organizations, and our people—continues to be the world’s greatest humanitarians. Between existing resources, supplemental funding, the private sector, and the generous spirit of the American people, the United States is leading – and will continue to lead – the effort to combat this dangerous pathogen and its threat to global health and security.”
Today, we urge the Department of State, in cooperation with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and other relevant agencies and departments– to immediately reprogram funding already appropriated for Armenia to assist the nation’s Ministry of Health, which is charged with battling the pandemic. Specifically, we encourage USAID to reprogram existing foreign aid funds to make them available to: a) allow Armenian officials to procure necessary medical equipment and supplies; b) bolster tracking efforts to rapidly bend the curve to level off COVID-19 cases among the general population, and; c) provide financial assistance to well respected non-profit organizations serving families in need across the Republic of Armenia, with a focus on seniors, the disabled, and children.
As you may know, several days ago the European Union announced that it is both reprogramming 33 million Euros in existing funding to help Armenia bolster its COVID-19 efforts, and also making an additional 18 million Euros available for Armenia to acquire medical devices and equipment, support small and medium-sized businesses, and help ensure that humanitarian assistance reaches low-income families.
During the Centennial of United States – Armenia relations, President Donald Trump celebrated this enduring friendship by expressing his hope that “our partnership, that started 100 years ago, will further strengthen.” In this spirit, we call on you to direct the immediate reprogramming of at least $25 million in funds already appropriated by Congress to assist the Republic of Armenia to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Thank you in advance for considering our request. Please do not hesitate to have Assistant Secretary Reeker or Deputy Assistant Secretary George Kent contact us directly at (202) 775-1918 or firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or feedback regarding the matters addressed in this correspondence.
Please share our thanks with all those at the Department of State and partner agencies for all they are doing, during these trying times, to represent our nation, protect our citizens, and help end this pandemic.
Raffi Haig Hamparian
Senator James Risch, Chairman Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Senator Robert Menendez, Ranking Member, Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Senator Richard Shelby, Chairman, Senate Appropriations Committee
Senator Patrick Leahy, Ranking Member, Senate Appropriations Committee
Representative Eliot Engel, Chairman House Foreign Affairs Committee
Representative Michael McCaul, Ranking Member, House Foreign Affairs Committee
Representative Nita Lowey, Chairwoman, House Appropriations Committee
Representative Hal Rogers, Ranking Member, House Appropriations Committee
Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues