On July 9, the Senate Appropriations Committee in Washington DC announced its continued support for direct U.S. aid to Nagorno Karabakh in 2016. The decision was made following the lead of Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) to continue the direct financial aid program to Nagorno-Karabakh which has been in place since 1998, and which provides support for humanitarian and peace-building initiatives.
The Committee’s report highlights Nagorno-Karabakh as a U.S. aid priority, recommending “assistance for victims of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in amounts consistent with prior years, and for ongoing needs related to the conflict.”
The report outlines the “confidence-building measures” that the aid program will continue to support. According to the report, these measures include “strengthening compliance with the cease-fire, studying post-conflict regional development such as water management, transportation routes and infrastructure, establishing a youth exchange program and other collaborative and humanitarian initiatives to foster greater understanding among the parties and reduce hostilities.”
The report also stresses on the continuation of demining projects. “The Committee recognizes that Nagorno-Karabakh has a per capita landmine accident rate among the highest in the world, and that mine clearance programs have been effective where implemented. The Committee is concerned with territorial restrictions placed on demining activities in the region and recommends continued funding for, and the geographical expansion of, such programs,” the report said.
In accordance with the Senate Appropriators’ call for parity in military assistance to Armenia and Azerbaijan, the Committee allocated $1.7 million in Foreign Military Financing (FMF) and $600,000 in International Military Education Training (IMET) to each of the two countries. In terms of non-military assistance, the committee recommended $20.1 million for Armenia; $8.8 million for Azerbaijan; and $54 million for Georgia.
The Committee assigned the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to disperse the aid. Other non-governmental organizations such as the American Red Cross, Doctors without Borders, Family Care, the Armenian Technology Group, the Hato Trust and others use the funds through USAID to implement their humanitarian assistance programs in Nagorno-Karabakh.
From 1998 to 2015, Nagorno-Karabakh has received a total sum of $44.5 million in U.S aid.