By Shakeh Avoyan
The Armenian government approved on Thursday $200,000 in assistance to victims of Hurricane Katrina, joining the long list of nations that have offered to alleviate the devastating consequences of the disaster that hit the south of the United States.
A government spokeswoman, Meri Harutiunian, said the cabinet instructed Armenia’s Foreign Ministry to transfer the modest sum to the U.S. government. “The government inquired what that country needs and found it more expedient to assist them in cash,” she told reporters after a weekly cabinet meeting.
The move followed President Robert Kocharian’s letter to President George W. Bush in which he expressed his condolences to Washington and families of thousands of people that are feared dead in the U.S. Gulf Coast. “On behalf of the Armenian people and myself, I express my sincere sympathy to you and the families and relatives of the victims of the disaster and wish them stamina and spiritual courage,” read the letter.
As many as 95 countries around the world have offered to help about one million people in the states of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama displaced by the August 29 storm and the ensued devastating floods. U.S. officials say the offers total about $1 billion in cash and other assistance.
Armenia has been one of the world’s leading per-capita recipients of U.S. economic assistance that has totaled $1.6 billion since its independence. Its government is also on course to receive $170 million worth of additional U.S. aid under the Millennium Challenge Program launched by the Bush administration last year.