Congress Members Initiate Campaign to Provide US Assistance to Armenian Community in Iraq

REPS. ANDREWS–SMITH–PALLONE AND SOUDER URGE HOUSE COLLEAGUES TO COSIGN LETTER TO KEY FOREIGN AID PANEL

WASHINGTON–DC–House members turned their attention to the difficult situation faced by Armenia’s in Iraq this week–initiating a letter to the leadership of the influential House Foreign Operations Subcommittee–calling for a $20 million assistance package to help this community–reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

In a September 10 letter to their House colleagues–Representatives Robert Andrews (D-NJ)–Chris Smith (R-NJ)–Mark Souder (R-IN) and Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) cited the deteriorating situation of the traditionally vital and enterprising Iraqi Armenian community–today some 30,000 strong. They noted the key role ethnic communities will certainly play in the "long-term democratization and stabilization of the emerging state." They reminded their colleagues that currently "Armenia’s have no voice on the recently appointed–25-member governing council and fear for their security and basic rights."

The $20 million assistance package would be part of the Iraq Relief and Reconstruction Fund–a $2.4 billion aid program that would assist in the reconstruction of health–water/sanitation–education–electricity–transportation–telecom–agriculture–and governance. The program is also slated to provide humanitarian assistance to refugees and replenish emergency food stocks.

Earlier this year–in a July 23 letter to President Bush–the ANCA joined leading Armenian American church and community organizations in alerting the President about the crisis facing Armenia’s in Iraq and urging him to provide meaningful assistance to address this dire situation. The letter noted that "the Armenian Church and local community institutions in Iraq–despite their best efforts and the help of Armenia’s from abroad–find themselves unable to meet even the basic needs of the Armenian community. The network of social welfare institutions that have long sustained the Armenian community have been severely disrupted and can no longer care for those most in need."

The Armenian American churches and community organizations signing the letter to President were the Apostolic Exarchate for Armenian Catholics–Armenian Church of North America-Western Diocese–Armenian Missionary Association of America–Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America-Eastern US–Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America-Eastern US–Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America-Western US–Armenian National Committee of America–Armenian Assembly of America–Armenian Relief Society–Armenian Youth Federation–Hamazkayin Armenian Educational and Cultural Association–Homenetmen Armenian General Athletic Union–and the Knights of Vartan.

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