Amendment to FY20 Foreign Aid Bill Would Appropriate Aid for Artsakh De-Mining and Rehabilitation Services
WASHINGTON—Central California Congressman TJ Cox (D-CA) spoke powerfully in support of renewed U.S. assistance to the Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh) for life-saving de-mining programs and expanded rehabilitation services, during an impassioned floor statement supporting passage of his amendment to the Fiscal Year 2020 (FY20) foreign aid bill, reported the Armenian National Committee of America.
“We join with Armenian Americans from across California’s Central Valley and throughout the United States in thanking Congressman Cox for his leadership in securing continued appropriations for the U.S. aid program for Artsakh – a meaningful American investment in peace and Artsakh’s democratic development,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “We are particularly gratified that this humanitarian aid will help de-mine Artsakh – saving lives and opening up new land for families and farming – and also to provide desperately needed regional rehabilitation services for individuals injured by mines and for all those living with physical or cognitive disabilities.”
Rep. Cox noted “Karabakh has one of the highest civilian casualty rates from land mines and unsolicited remnants of war. According to The HALO Trust, there have been nearly 400 civilian casualties from mines and unexploded ordnance in Karabakh for the last few decades and a quarter of those landmine victims have been children. In 2013, a needs assessment estimated that The HALO Trust interventions have benefited over 80% of the region’s population. Mr. Speaker, families and children shouldn’t have to live in fear of dying due to a landmine accident.”
The Cox Amendment on Artsakh aid, which was supported by Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chairs Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Jackie Speier (D-CA) and Vice-Chair Adam Schiff (D-CA), calls for a $1.5 million allocation for FY2020. It was incorporated as part of a group of foreign aid related amendments, which will be voted on collectively – “en bloc” – when the U.S. House continues consideration of H.R.2740 next week.
Ranking Republican of the House Appropriations Committee Hal Rogers (R-KY) opposed several amendments in the en bloc measure, including the Cox amendment, stating that “the programs referenced in the amendment are either concluding or are not supported with U.S. assistance.”
In March, the ANCA worked closely with Congressional Armenian Caucus leadership in support of a Congressional letter, supported by over 35 Members of Congress, to the House Appropriations Committee leadership outlining a range of U.S. foreign assistance priorities, including aid to the Republic of Artsakh.
Separately, during testimony before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, the ANCA stressed “American assistance has met pressing humanitarian needs, including clean water for families and mine-clearance across Nagorno Karabakh’s farmlands, towns, and villages. The HALO Trust, with the support of this Subcommittee, is close to declaring Nagorno Karabakh mine-free, but needs continued funds to complete its life-saving work. In addition to de-mining, we urge this panel to support the operations of Nagorno Karabakh-based regional rehabilitation centers, like the Lady Cox Rehabilitation Center in Stepanakert, which serve children, adults, and seniors with physical and mental disabilities.”
Continued U.S. assistance to the Republic of Artsakh is part of the broader ANCA 360 legislative agenda which seeks to generate U.S. support — in policy, practice, and principle— for Artsakh’s independence and security, support the OSCE Minsk Group platform, challenge Azerbaijani aggression by promoting accountability for attacks along the line of contact, and foster broader, pro-peace dialogue between the U.S. and Artsakh.