Today marks one year since the Azerbaijani government, along with its allies and hired guns, launched a war against the people of Artsakh. The Armenian Relief Society stands in solidarity with all the soldiers who fought valiantly to defend their land, with all those who gave their lives and their families who are still coping with their loss. The organization actively supports soldiers who were injured while protecting Artsakh and Armenia’s borders and those who lost their homes during the 44-day war.
Last year brought extreme grief to the Armenian Nation and that grief continues till this day, as the current government signs agreements with Azeri aggressors, who continue to threaten the existence of the Armenian people.
The ARS, true to its objectives – “to make special appropriations for food, medicine, and clothing in the event of war, epidemics, or natural disaster, and to aid the disabled, the ill, the needy, prisoners of war and the deported” – has provided aid since the beginning of the war, by arranging immediate relief efforts and assisting the civilian population affected by the 44-day war.
The ARS has kept an active presence in Armenia and Artsakh for 30 years, with projects realized in a number of fields, proving the Society’s devoted commitment to the welfare and progress of the Homeland. Today, faced with sad realities, despite all the post-war trauma, and both emotional and physical pitfalls, the ARS continues to run its relief efforts in Artsakh. During the 44-day war and in its immediate aftermath, the organization has always stood by the Armenian servicemen and volunteers, their children and families, and all who, suddenly deprived of their ancestral lands and homes, needed immediate assistance.
With the collective and constant efforts of the ARS Central Executive Board, Regional Executive Boards, the Executives of Entities and Chapters, as well as worldwide donors and supporters, it became possible to reach and help wounded soldiers, families of fallen heroes, children, and the families who lost their homes and were displaced. Alongside programs realized over the past months, today, the ARS is planning a new program to assist the families of Armenian prisoners of war and those missing in action. The humanitarian efforts organized by the ARS in Armenia and Artsakh since September 27, 2020 are as follows:
- With the joint efforts of ARS-Canada, ARS-Eastern and Western USA, CBA-France, ARS-Belgium, ABC-Greece, and their Armenian Communities, nearly $7,000 worth of items were shipped to Armenia and Artsakh, to be distributed among displaced families and individuals who had taken refuge in Armenia and cities of unoccupied Artsakh. Items included medications, coats, clothes, footwear, bedding items, food, medical equipment, sleeping bags, utility shoulder bags, wheelchairs and walkers, baby food, powder milk and other everyday necessities.
- Expanding its annual Yuletide (Amanor) Program, the ARS Executive Board launched the “Special Amanor” program which aimed at bringing some holiday cheer to the children of displaced residents of Artsakh. The local ARS entities distributed the gifts to 4,034 children both in Armenia and Artsakh. Children received coats, toys, educational games, and stationary.
- Considering the status of the displaced families as a result of the 44 day war, the CEB initiated the “Stand with an Artsakh Family” relief project. The goal of this project was to provide financial assistance to one thousand displaced families from Artsakh. Each family received a total of $1,000 over the course of four months. With the kind donations of ARS supporters and entities, in total, $1,000,000 ($381,500 in Armenia and $618,500 in Artsakh) was distributed during the four phases of the project.
- With the outbreak of the war, the teachers, principals, and staff members of the ARS “Sose” kindergartens fled to various cities of Armenia, many leaving behind their sons and husbands. Considering the uncertainty of the war and the high cost of living in Armenia, the ARS decided to provide a single allocation of $300 to all. In total, $24,596 was allotted to this purpose.
- ARS-Armenia allocated $5,123 for provision of meals for one month to a shelter in Zvartnots hosting 165 refugees.
- The ARS has been a great supporter of the Military Disability Rehabilitation Center at the Heratsi Hospital, securing specialized equipment to provide professional treatment to the wounded. With the efforts of ARS entities, to date we have secured an anesthesia machine, an orthopedic surgical table, Arthrex arthroscopy tower and a ventilator․ A total of $184,000 has been donated to the Center by the ARS for equipment and other needs.
- During the early days of the Artsakh war, a total of $52,400 was provided to 74 families of fallen and wounded soldiers.
- The ARS has been sponsoring young children in Armenia and Artsakh since 1992. Immediately after the breakout of the war, the CEB revamped its Orphan’s sponsorship program and renamed the program “Children of Fallen Heroes” to financially assist the children of fallen soldiers, both in Armenia and Artsakh. For $330 a year, sponsors can make an impact by transforming the life of a child whose father sacrificed his life while defending the Homeland. Donors must agree to sponsor children until the age of 18.
- It is within the broad scope of the ARS objectives to assist the families of prisoners of war and of those missing in action. Planning ahead, the ARS is putting their efforts toward helping those families by providing them with care packages and other everyday necessities.
The moral support and material contributions made by the ARS’ supporters, donors, and all ARS entities help the organization achieve organizational goals, especially those of the ARS Emergency Assistance Programs in Armenia and Artsakh.
True to their motto, “With the People, for the People,” the ARS’ activities continue with the same zeal and commitment. To become a supporter of the ARS’ humanitarian assistance programs, invest your tax-free donations to the ARS Artsakh Assistance Fund.