Members Urge Key Panel to Earmark US Assistance to Iraq’s Armenia’s

REPS. ANDREWS–SMITH–PALLONE AND SOUDER LEAD CONGRESSIONAL EFFORT TO SECURE $20 MILLION

WASHINGTON–DC (ANCA)–Over 20 House Members have urged the leadership of the influential House Foreign Operations Subcommittee to earmark a $20 million assistance package to help the struggling Armenian community in Iraq.

In the letter initiated by Representatives Robert Andrews (D-NJ)–Chris Smith (R-NJ)–Mark Souder (R-IN) and Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ)–the legislators cite the deteriorating situation of the traditionally vital and enterprising Iraqi Armenian community–today some 30,000 strong. They express concern that "the crisis in the Armenian community will prevent it from making its unique contribution to Iraq’s transformation from dictatorship to democracy."

"We appreciate the leadership of Congressmen Andrews–Smith–Souder–and Pallone in raising this pressing issue with the key House foreign aid appropriators," said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. "We will continue to work–through Congress and the Administration–to help ensure that meaningful levels of US aid are made available to alleviate the crisis facing the Armenian community in Iraq."

Joining Representatives Andrews–Smith–Souder and Pallone in cosigning the letter to Foreign Operations Subcommittee Chairman Jim Kolbe (R-AZ) were: Representatives Xavier Becerra (D-CA)–Jerry Costello (D-IL)–Joseph Crowley (D-NY)–Anna Eshoo (D-CA)–Bob Filner (D-CA)–Barney Frank (D-MA)–Scott Garrett (R-NJ)–Dale Kildee (D-MI)–Zoe Lofgren (D-CA)–Carolyn Maloney (D-NY)–Edward Markey (D-MA)–James McGovern (D-MA)–Grace Napolitano (D-CA)–Sander Levin (D-MI)–Michael McNulty (D-NY)–and George Radanovich (R-CA)–Adam Schiff (D-CA).

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 and agriculture sectors–and governance. The program is also slated to provide humanitarian assistance to refugees–and help 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 President Bush 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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