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Samaritan’s Purse distributes relief supplies to Armenian families forced to flee their homes in conflict zone

Samaritan’s Purse distributes relief supplies to Armenian families forced to flee their homes in conflict zone

DC-8 aircraft being loaded with winter relief supplies for families in need in Yerevan, Armenia. | Samaritan's Purse

To provide winter relief supplies to hundreds of civilians displaced by ongoing fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan over disputed territories, the evangelical humanitarian aid organization Samaritan’s Purse has sent its DC-8 aircraft packed with more than 11 tons of relief supplies. 

Since fighting broke out on Sept. 27 over the long-disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh, thousands have fled the Caucasus mountains to Armenia’s capital, Yerevan, where Samaritan’s Purse will deliver critically needed warm clothing, the Christian charity said.

“Our team is bringing more than 11 tons of winter clothes and blankets, enough for 500 families in need. The boots, coats, gloves, socks, and thermal underwear included in the shipment will be especially welcome now that temperatures are consistently dipping into the 30s,” it said.

The conflict started in the 1980s when the Soviet Union began to fall apart. While Russia brokered a ceasefire in 1994, clashes have continued. Mostly Armenians live in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, but the region is internationally recognized as a part of Azerbaijan.

“The conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan is heartbreaking,” Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan’s Purse, said. “Families are caught in the crossfire of a brutal war, and thousands have been forced to flee. Samaritan’s Purse is bringing critical relief to people in need — reminding hurting families that they are not alone and that God loves them.”

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On Friday, Azeri rockets and artillery shells hit the disputed region’s capital, Stepanakert, killing three people, The Wall Street Journal reported.

According to Nagorno Karabakh’s human-rights ombudsman, about 50 Armenian civilians have been killed and at least 146 wounded.

Russia has close relations with both Armenia and Azerbaijan, but Turkey’s support of Azerbaijan, which is already involved in two proxy conflicts with Russia in Syria and Libya, has made it difficult for Moscow to mediate.

Last month, about 100,000 people marched through the streets of Los Angeles, California, which has one of the country's largest populations of Armenian immigrants, to call for an end to the fighting.

In a statement, the Armenian National Committee of America stated that Azerbaijan began a “full-scale invasion” of Nagorno-Karabakh on Sept. 27, calling it the “most significant violation of the ceasefire since the ceasefire was established in 1994.”

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on both Azerbaijan and Armenia to “implement their commitments to a ceasefire as agreed and cease targeting civilian areas.”

“We deplore the loss of human life and remain committed to a peaceful settlement,” he wrote.

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