Rego Park family reunited after Congresswoman Meng facilitates evacuation from former Soviet region

Rego Park resident Garegin Akopyan was reunited with his wife and son at JFK Airport Sunday after they were trapped in Nogorno-Karabakh since December. (Photo courtesy of Meng’s office)

A young family from Rego Park is back together in the United States after a harrowing ordeal by a mom and her toddler in war-torn Nagorno-Karabakh during a mounting humanitarian crisis in the Armenian-majority Republic of Artsakh. Congresswoman Grace Meng interceded on the family’s behalf after her constituent, Garegin Akopyan, reached out to her office for emergency assistance.

Akopyan’s wife, Lusine, and their 3-year-old son, Andranik, traveled to Armenia in December and took a trip to Nagorno-Karabakh to visit relatives and lay flowers at her father’s gravesite. While there, Lusine and her youngster found themselves trapped as a result of an ongoing blockade of the Lachin Corridor, a critical road that supplies the region, by Azerbaijan. Akopyan turned to Meng for assistance.

The congresswoman is New York’s senior member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee — which has oversight of funds to the U.S. State Department — and after working with the State Department and the American National Committee of America, Meng helped to facilitate Lusine and her boy’s evacuation from the troubled region.

After the fall of the Soviet Union, the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh declared independence from Azerbaijan, and after years of conflict, they prevailed and formed the Republic of Artsakh in 1995. Years of fighting ensued until Russia brokered a cease-fire in 2020, and their troops kept the Lachin Corridor open, but those troops were pulled last year after Russia invaded Ukraine.

Azerbaijan launched a siege on the Republic of Artsakh in December 2020.

The evacuation of Akopyan’s wife and son proceeded as a blockade of the vital roadway that had barred food, medicine and other necessities from entering the region for almost two months. Akopyan greeted his wife and son with flowers when they were reunited at JFK Airport on Sunday, Jan. 29.

“Helping my constituents, no matter where they are in the world is always my top priority,” Meng said. “I am proud to have helped reunite Garegin with his loved ones and ensure his wife and son’s safe return to Queens. I wish the family all the best in the future, and I’m glad they are back home together with everybody out of harm’s way.”