Connections With Msgr. Peter: Call for Support for Armenia

In response to the escalating refugee crisis in Armenia, Msgr. Peter I. Vaccari, CNEWA president, recorded an emergency episode of “Connections With Msgr. Peter.”

Armenian Catholic Patriarch Raphaël Bedros XXI Minassian, Archbishop José Avelino Bettencourt, papal nuncio to Armenia and Georgia, and representatives from Caritas Armenia were among his guests.

The episode was recorded on 28 September, the same day the president of Nagorno-Karabakh signed a decree stating that the region will “cease to exist” come 1 January — the result of Azerbaijan seizing control of the ethnically Armenian region on 20 September.

Since then, the number of refugees fleeing Nagorno-Karabakh has risen daily. The Armenian government reported more than 100,000 refugees have poured into Armenia from Nagorno-Karabakh as of 1 October.

“It is a genocide,” said Patriarch Minassian during the episode. “They are forced to leave their homeland. They were forced to empty their houses and their homes and go away.”

“I thank all the supporters and all the people that they are thinking about the Armenians in this case of Nagorno-Karabakh. But unfortunately, Nagorno-Karabakh doesn’t exist anymore,” he said.

Archbishop Bettencourt issued a “very urgent and very heartfelt appeal” on behalf of the Holy See “to silence the arms, to meet the humanitarian situation of these 120,000 real people, respect the human rights, call to dialogue and transparency, respect international law. 

“And we urge very actively the full involvement of the international community in this process,” he said.

Michael J.L. La Civita, director of communications for CNEWA, said CNEWA’s work in Armenia goes back nearly a century. The Armenian Genocide was the driving force behind CNEWA’s founding, he said. 

Much of the agency’s work in Armenia since the 1980s has been in partnership with Caritas Armenia and the Armenian Catholic Ordinariate. CNEWA works closely with Caritas in responding to the needs of refugees from Nagorno-Karabakh.

“People are fleeing their homeland, Artsakh, Nagorno-Karabakh,” said Anahit Gevorgyan, programs manager for Caritas Armenia. “Maybe for many this is the third time that they are leaving their homes, their country and, unfortunately, as of today, we know that they are leaving it for good.” 

With the number of refugees in urgent need in Armenia increasing by the day, Ms. Gevorgyan said “Caritas Armenia is ready to provide these people with shelter, with livelihood support, with urgent humanitarian support.”

“Today, we are asking you for your financial support to provide urgent assistance of food, medicine and shelter,” said Deirdre O’Brien, director of development for CNEWA. “Our goal is to raise $100,000.” 

Msgr. Vaccari asked for prayers, the dissemination of true information on the crisis and donations to CNEWA’s emergency response in Armenia.     

“This is not something that can remain silent,” he said. “We ask everyone within their means to please donate.”

Support CNEWA’s response in assisting refugees from Nagorno-Karabakh in Armenia.

Olivia Poust is assistant editor of ONE.

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