Civil war in Syria has forced tens of thousands of people to flee their country of residence. Like Syrian civilians, thousands of Syrian-Armenians moved to other countries, including Armenia and Artsakh. A couple of dozen Syrian-Armenian families, many from Kamishli, have made new homes in the Nagorno Karabakh Republic. Some are living in Berdzor - the regional center of Kashatagh (Lachin) or Ishkhanadzor, while the majority live in Kovsakan. The NKR Government and others have implemented various projects to support resettlement in Kovsakan, solve housing and other problems. Several families have already been provided with apartments; in addition, an apartment building is being built. 



On October 7, Syrian-Armenian Relief Coordination Center NGO celebrated its 1st anniversary. On this occasion, the NGO hosted a reception attended by RA Minister of Diaspora Hranush Hakobyan, Executive Director of the NGO Lena Halajian, AGBU Central Board Member Vasken Yacoubian, AGBU Armenia Director Arpi Vartanian, UNHCR Representative Christoph Bierwirth, representatives from the Ministry of Diaspora, clergymen, Syrian-Armenians, and others. The Minister thanked individuals and organizations for their humanitarian and patriotic activities, as well as for preserving the Armenian identity.



On October 2, the RA Diaspora Ministry, the RA Education and Science Ministry, the Armenian General Benevolent Union and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation issued the following joint statement about launching a tuition-assistance program for Syrian-Armenians studying at Armenia’s colleges and universities. Within the framework of programs supporting Syrian-Armenians who have moved to Armenia as a result of the latest developments in Syria, the RA Ministry of Diaspora, the RA Ministry of Education and Science, the Armenian General Benevolent Union and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation announce the launch of a tuition assistance program for Syrian-Armenians studying at Armenia’s colleges and universities during the 2013-2014 academic year.





Organized and sponsored by the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU), and with the blessings of His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, Syria in My Memories, a charity exhibition-sale of well-known Syrian-Armenian photographer Vahe Shahinian opened at the Hovhannes Tumanyan Museum on September 30, with over 300 people in attendance. Special thanks to longtime AGBU member and supporter, Syrian-Armenian Sarkis Kazanjian who contributed to the success of the event. All proceeds from the sale will be used for programs assisting Syrian-Armenians who have moved to Armenia as a result of the conflict. Syria, confronted with war and desolation today, was presented in all its previous charm and beauty. Through more than 150 photographs, the artist presented a selection of his work over the last 30 years. He confessed that, because of the war, he has not even touched a camera in the last three years. “I would like Armenians here (in Armenia) to know that Syria is not a country of war. There was peace in Syria, but now Syria has gone backwards 50 years. Syrian-Armenians that moved to Armenia now must learn to adapt and live here. About 20-30,000 Armenians are still in Syria. But living in Syria today is a matter of fate; you do not know what will happen next. I reject war and believe in a promising future for Syria,” said Shahinian emotionally. The exhibition opened with the blessings of His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians. Shahinian presented a photograph of His Holiness to the Catholicos and thanked him for his pontifical care and enormous help towards Syrian-Armenians, before touring the exhibit and describing the photographs to His Holiness.





UGAB Jeunes (AGBU Youth of France) kicked off its first Arménie, Terre de Vie (Armenia, Land of Life) project in 2011, when 32 Armenian and French young adults volunteered their time and service to construction, education, environment and health programs in various regions of Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh (NKR). Two years later, after careful planning and intensive fundraising, UGAB Jeunes was ready to return to Armenia and undertake a similar mission. Twenty-seven volunteers from France and Belgium, ages 18-30, renovated part of the AGBU and Holy Etchmiadzin Malatya Children’s Center in Yerevan between August 1-30. The building was rundown, and a major wing had no gas or water. Advisor on Culture and Cooperation Issues at the French Embassy in Armenia, Mr. Jean-Michel Kasbarian, who visited the Malatya Center accompanied by AGBU Armenia Director Arpi Vartanian and Deputy Director Hovig Eordekian, stressed the importance of the project and Diasporan involvement in building Armenia’s future. “I am truly happy and impressed to see these French youths implementing a charity project here in Armenia,” said Kasbarian. Not all the volunteers were Armenian. Andy Marie-Luce, one of the French volunteers, remarked, “This program was exciting, exhausting and satisfying. It has been an unforgettable experience. We wanted to give something special to the children with our work and gifts, but ultimately, I think we were rewarded with so much more from this experience.”

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