An annual medical mission to Armenia was not possible this year due to COVID-19 restrictions and a major conflict. But, that’s not stopping a dedicated team from Fresno from doing their part to help.
Honorary Consul of the Republic of Armenia in Fresno Berj Apkarian found another way to help by collecting medical supplies that are set to arrive in the war torn region this week.
Armenia and Azerbaijan reported more fighting on Tuesday over the separatist territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, where clashes have continued for over three weeks despite attempts at establishing a cease-fire.
According to Nagorno-Karabakh officials, 773 of their troops have been killed since Sept. 27, along with over 30 civilians. Azerbaijan hasn’t disclosed its military losses, but says 61 civilians have died so far and 291 have been wounded.
“We’re sending items that are needed. I am in constant communication with the minister of Health in Armenia.”–Honorary Consul of the Republic of Armenia in Fresno Berj Apkarian
Humanitarian Aid From Fresno
“We’re sending items that are needed,” explains Apkarian to GV Wire℠ by phone. “I am in constant communication with the minister of health in Armenia.”
Apkarian says he and others along with group of Fresno medical professionals packaged up over $50,000 worth of supplies. Among the items boxed up were first aid kits, surgical instruments, and coagulants to help stop bleeding.
According to Apkarian, there are 9 big boxes of just coagulants alone worth a wholesale price of $14,500.
“Based on requests, we will continue our efforts,” says Apkarian. “We have to do our part.”
The first shipment of humanitarian aid from Fresno is already on its way and should arrive in Armenia on either Thursday or Friday.
“They can use our help, and the problem with wounds and war is the use of equipment. Everything is used and used and used. And you run out so fast,” ENT Specialist Dr. Brien Tonkinson told KSEE24.
Donations from Non-Armenian Community
Apkarian tells GV Wire℠ he was so impressed with the outpouring of support from the whole community that he didn’t sleep last night.
“There are as many non-Armenian donors as there are Armenian donors,” he says.
He also says Community Medical Centers, a long time supporter of the cause, is also stepping up again this year.
Any Part of the World
“We will do this for any part of the world because we are blessed to live in the United States,” says Apkarian.
He says back in 2016, a team of 28 people from Fresno went to Jordan which had taken in the majority of Syrian refugees from the war there.
Community Medical Centers teamed up with the California Agricultural Leadership Foundation to donate and transport more than $200,000 in medical equipment and supplies.
Apkarian and the members of the Agricultural Leadership Class 46 delivered 28 suitcases and 14 backpacks filled with portable medical machines and equipment to the government-run Al Nadeem Hospital in Madaba, just 19 miles south of Jordan’s capital city Amman.
The group brought IV pumps, blood pressure cuffs, glucose monitors, dental instruments, surgical scalpels and scissors, pediatric scales /measures, four portable ultrasound machines, and six small electrocardiogram machines hooked to laptop computer monitors that can share results through secure intranet connections to cardiac specialists elsewhere.
If you would like to donate you can make your tax deductible donation to Advance Armenia Foundation.
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(The Associated Press contributed to this story.)