MONTREAL, October 2, 2023 ― In response to the growing Armenian refugee crisis, Development and Peace ― Caritas Canada is allocating $35,000 to Caritas Armenia to help it serve the needs of thousands of displaced people.
“A major tragedy is unfolding before our eyes in the Nagorno-Karabakh region. Latest reports from Armenia indicate that over 100,0000 people have been forced to flee their ancestral homeland.” said Carl Hétu, executive director of Development and Peace ― Caritas Canada.
The exodus began after the Azeri army attacked the region on September 19, 2023, presumably to quell separatist resistance from ethnic Armenians, who had faced discrimination since Soviet times. In the post-Soviet-era, Nagorno-Karabakh remained part of Azerbaijan, but declared itself the Republic of Artsakh. The region’s prolonged low-grade conflict boiled over into a full-scale war in 2020 in which Azerbaijan had gained the upper hand.
Although Pope Francis’s appeal “that the weapons be silenced” seemed heeded because the offensive only lasted 24 hours, the crisis was not over. By October 1, Caritas Armenia had registered 84,956 refugees, who had arrived over the Lachin corridor in over 21,000 vehicles.
Hétu reported, “We understand from Caritas Armenia that the situation is critical. The displaced families need food, water, shelter, hygiene products, healthcare and trauma counselling.” That is why, he said, “We are closely monitoring the situation and will act as needed, in coordination with Caritas Internationalis and Caritas Armenia. Meanwhile, we invite the Catholic community to pray for our Armenian sisters and brothers and the restoration of peace in the region.”
Development and Peace ― Caritas Canda also accepts donations for this crisis online at devp.org/give and on the phone at 1 888 234-8533.