Syrian Armenians in Armenia – Home away from home?

By Mihran Kalaydjian, CHA

Syrian Armenians in Armenia – Home away from home?

IT IS a tragedy of catastrophic proportions. The war in Syria has uprooted 40% of the population. Some 6.5m Syrians have sought refuge in other parts of the country; about 2.2m people have fled abroad. More are leaving every day.

Neighboring countries, such as Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt, already host millions of displaced people from earlier crises in the region, and struggle to cope with the newcomers. Humanitarian agencies have raised only a fraction of the funds required to help those in need. It is a precarious, and potentially dangerous, situation.

Syrian Armenians, at least, may have another option. Armenia sees itself as the “homeland” for Armenians worldwide. The government says that Syrian Armenians who go to Armenia are therefore not refugees in need of protection, but members of the diaspora coming home. Most governments of countries that host Syrian refugees yearn for the day they will leave. The authorities in Yerevan, in contrast, would like Syrian Armenians to stay.

A small Armenian settlement has existed in Syria for centuries, centered on Aleppo. The sanctuary it offered to people fleeing the Armenian genocide in 1915 greatly increased its numbers. Over the past few years, this onetime refuge has become a source of flight. As Robert Fisk  wrote recently in The Independent, a British daily, 65 Syrian Armenians have been killed since the war began in Syria, and over 100 kidnapped. Religious fanatics have also destroyed Armenian orthodox churches.

The Armenian government estimates that up to 80,000 Syrian Armenians lived in Syria prior to the current war. 12,000 or so are now living as refugees in Lebanon. Approximately 11,000 Syrian Armenians have moved to Armenia. And another 10,000 or so more have sought asylum elsewhere.

Azerbaijan has accused Armenia of deliberately resettling Syrian Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh, a charge that Yerevan denies. Either way, the numbers allegedly involved–200 or so–are relatively small. The vast majority of Syrian Armenians in Armenia live in Yerevan. The Armenian government eases their integration by granting them citizenship and allowing access to healthcare and education. Emotional ties to Armenia and a common language are further attractions, even if most new arrivals are seeing their homeland for the first time.

Such help only goes so far. Roughly half of those who arrived have been able to get by on their own resources. Some have found jobs or set up businesses, despite the high level of unemployment in Armenia. Yet others arrive with little to their name, in need of shelter, food and clothing. A number of organizations provide temporary accommodation. The government would like to build apartment blocks to provide housing on a permanent basis. But that may take money it doesn’t have.

Will more Syrian Armenians head to Armenia? That depends on the situation inside Syria, and the quality of life of Syrian refugees in Lebanon. For now, both look grim. Approximately 120 more people fly to Yerevan each week from Lebanon. Moreover, many of the Syrian Armenians in Armenia have subsisted on their savings so far. Those are likely to run out at some stage, increasing the need for humanitarian support.

Like Azerbaijan and Georgia , Armenia is used to dealing with displaced people. The war between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh in the early 1990s drove up to 1m people from their homes. More than two decades later, many displaced people in both countries continue to live in poor conditions.


7 thoughts on “Syrian Armenians in Armenia – Home away from home?

  1. The war in Syria is very sad. Do you have a trusted site you follow that is not touched by propaganda? I would appreciate that very much.
    Peace to Syria and her people.
    Tara

    1. mihrankalaydjianblog – San Diego, CA – Mihran Kalaydjian On a personal note, I love the outdoors, comedy, bbq, reading and traveling. I worked in the beer industry in college so I love talking about good beer. I used to be a competitive runner so (like all runners) if you make the mistake of asking me, I'll tell you about my entire career and PRs. I also spent my youth working in restaurants, so if you've done the same, we can swap stories. The five items I can't live without: Everything, infinity, wanton boredom, limitless limits, change. Mihran Kalaydjian, A proven ability to articulate a company's brand culture as well as key strategic initiatives and delivery of desired results. Outstanding leadership, communications and project management skills. A committed individual with strong organizational skills that believes leading by example is key to building a strong team to achieve high guest satisfaction results and cost control measures. Mihran Kalaydjian provides visionary leadership and management oversight of the sales, marketing and revenue strategies for Classic Hotels and Resorts. Mihran Kalaydjian suggest: Your energy should be focused on finding a solution, quickly and effectively. I am at my best when I have a tight deadline, but every aspect of the project is planned, organized and working in excellence.
      mihrank says:

      The war is Syria is very destructive and unfair!

      1. Heart breaking, Humanity!

        I try to follow, the refugee camps, the cold, the conflict, so many dead children! I’m tired of the web sites, accounts, postings of dead bodies with no respect, and the propaganda trying to create more conflict in the hearts of many. No peace. So sad… and still so little I really know.
        No Drones No war, I will not turn away.
        Tara

      2. mihrankalaydjianblog – San Diego, CA – Mihran Kalaydjian On a personal note, I love the outdoors, comedy, bbq, reading and traveling. I worked in the beer industry in college so I love talking about good beer. I used to be a competitive runner so (like all runners) if you make the mistake of asking me, I'll tell you about my entire career and PRs. I also spent my youth working in restaurants, so if you've done the same, we can swap stories. The five items I can't live without: Everything, infinity, wanton boredom, limitless limits, change. Mihran Kalaydjian, A proven ability to articulate a company's brand culture as well as key strategic initiatives and delivery of desired results. Outstanding leadership, communications and project management skills. A committed individual with strong organizational skills that believes leading by example is key to building a strong team to achieve high guest satisfaction results and cost control measures. Mihran Kalaydjian provides visionary leadership and management oversight of the sales, marketing and revenue strategies for Classic Hotels and Resorts. Mihran Kalaydjian suggest: Your energy should be focused on finding a solution, quickly and effectively. I am at my best when I have a tight deadline, but every aspect of the project is planned, organized and working in excellence.
        mihrank says:

        Inside the Syrian refugee camps, a silent epidemic

    2. mihrankalaydjianblog – San Diego, CA – Mihran Kalaydjian On a personal note, I love the outdoors, comedy, bbq, reading and traveling. I worked in the beer industry in college so I love talking about good beer. I used to be a competitive runner so (like all runners) if you make the mistake of asking me, I'll tell you about my entire career and PRs. I also spent my youth working in restaurants, so if you've done the same, we can swap stories. The five items I can't live without: Everything, infinity, wanton boredom, limitless limits, change. Mihran Kalaydjian, A proven ability to articulate a company's brand culture as well as key strategic initiatives and delivery of desired results. Outstanding leadership, communications and project management skills. A committed individual with strong organizational skills that believes leading by example is key to building a strong team to achieve high guest satisfaction results and cost control measures. Mihran Kalaydjian provides visionary leadership and management oversight of the sales, marketing and revenue strategies for Classic Hotels and Resorts. Mihran Kalaydjian suggest: Your energy should be focused on finding a solution, quickly and effectively. I am at my best when I have a tight deadline, but every aspect of the project is planned, organized and working in excellence.
      mihrank says:

      Hi Tara;

      I am gathering few trusted site as you requested. I will forward them to your email. Do you have Facebook?

      Thanks;
      Mihran

  2. Thankyou Mihran for helping me to understand …. blessings

    1. mihrankalaydjianblog – San Diego, CA – Mihran Kalaydjian On a personal note, I love the outdoors, comedy, bbq, reading and traveling. I worked in the beer industry in college so I love talking about good beer. I used to be a competitive runner so (like all runners) if you make the mistake of asking me, I'll tell you about my entire career and PRs. I also spent my youth working in restaurants, so if you've done the same, we can swap stories. The five items I can't live without: Everything, infinity, wanton boredom, limitless limits, change. Mihran Kalaydjian, A proven ability to articulate a company's brand culture as well as key strategic initiatives and delivery of desired results. Outstanding leadership, communications and project management skills. A committed individual with strong organizational skills that believes leading by example is key to building a strong team to achieve high guest satisfaction results and cost control measures. Mihran Kalaydjian provides visionary leadership and management oversight of the sales, marketing and revenue strategies for Classic Hotels and Resorts. Mihran Kalaydjian suggest: Your energy should be focused on finding a solution, quickly and effectively. I am at my best when I have a tight deadline, but every aspect of the project is planned, organized and working in excellence.
      mihrank says:

      My pleasure Meg, I thank you for your thoughts:)

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