In late September, Ruben Vardanyan, business leader, philanthropist and co-founder of the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative, was detained by Azerbaijani authorities when he tried to cross the border to Armenia. He is currently being held captive.
Ruben is a longtime supporter and friend of Near East Foundation (NEF). He and his wife, Veronika, have been extremely generous and have given to NEF and other organizations that support Armenian communities. NEF supports Ruben and calls for his immediate release.
The Crisis in Armenia
Nagorno-Karabakh was home to 120,000 ethnic Armenians, who made up 95% of the population in the area. The area lies within Azerbaijan’s internationally recognized borders, but since the 1990s, it has operated autonomously with a de facto government that relied heavily on its ties with Armenia.
Last month – ten months after Azerbaijan blockaded the Lachin corridor that cut off food and other vital resources and a week after military troops launched an offensive on the area – the president of the self-declared Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh announced that all governmental institutions would dissolve on January 1, 2024.
Fearing persecution and more violence, nearly the entire population of Nagorno-Karabakh has fled their homes and are now forcibly displaced in Armenia – with many unhoused.
What is NEF doing to help?
We are channeling funds and donations into our Challenge Fund for Emergency Response, an initiative our team in Armenia established in 2022. The Challenge Fund provides funding and support to dozens of local Armenian nonprofit organizations so they can take the lead when responding to crises and urgent needs of their communities.
NEF has supported the Armenian population for over 100 years, and we are positioned to continue our help. Guided by the needs and voices of the communities we serve, we are responding compassionately, rapidly and with tailored support.