As Armenian hospitals and care facilities work tirelessly to tend to those injured in the Artsakh War, the nation reached level four of coronavirus infection rates, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). With over 150,000 cases at the time, the United Nations World Food Program (WFP), the world’s oldest and largest agency dedicated to ending hunger and humanitarian crises, offered the AGBU to coordinate the logistics of delivering several rounds of cargo to be shipped from Liège, Belgium, overseen by AGBU Europe, and received in Yerevan by AGBU Armenia. The entire cost of the shipping fees are covered free of charge by the WFP Liège Hub, while the Covid-related personal protective equipment and relief items have been generously donated by members of the Armenian community in Belgium.
“The WFP is proud to partner with such a historic and far-reaching organization like AGBU. The very nature of AGBU– a grassroots international organization so important for all Armenians, marks a significant partnership with the WFP,” said Hien Adjemian, Operation Manager at WFP Liège Hub. “We are proud to provide services that enable AGBU to reach more people and make a difference. Collaborating with the UN is a step towards change, and WFP Liège Hub hopes that this experience will be instrumental to further collaboration,” Adjemian remarked.
The pandemic supply initiative began in early October 2020 and will run through mid-January. Goods and materials were collected, organized, and packed by the Belgian Armenian community in the Hay Doun Armenian Cultural Center in Brussels, coordinated by its President, Karen Tadevosian. Among others, a generous benefactor from the Belgian Armenian community, Nany Katcherissian, alone, donated 614 kg of PPEs to support the healthcare workers in Armenia. Approximately 42,827 kg (around 43 tons) of supplies will be delivered to AGBU Armenia to put those supplies to work for the Armenian people. “Thanks to the WFP and the support of our Belgian-Armenian volunteers, we are able to deliver much needed relief to our healthcare heroes and COVID-19 patients in Armenia,” noted AGBU Europe President Nadia Gortzounian.
AGBU Armenia was entrusted with picking up the cargo at the Zvartnotz airport in Yerevan. The shipment contained an array of health and humanitarian related supplies, including, but not limited to, PPE equipment, ready to use therapeutic food, anesthesia machines, wheelchairs, medical canes, orthopedic equipment, clothes, shoes, sleeping bags, food and hygiene products valued at around $490,301 USD.
Once on the ground, AGBU distributed the cargo as follows: PPE and medical supplies were delivered directly to the Armenia Ministry of Health. Clothing, shoes, blankets, and hygiene products went to the Armenia Ministry of Emergency Situations. And the 16,000 kg of food will remain with AGBU Armenia for distribution to needy Armenians across the country.
“These WFP shipments couldn’t be more essential during these critical times in Armenia. We also recognize the commitment of AGBU volunteers and staff, who coordinated and collaborated to ensure this international effort was implemented with care, efficiency and transparency,” noted AGBU Armenia President Vasken Yacoubian, adding that AGBU has once again proven itself a trustworthy and competent partner in delivering humanitarian relief.