Monday, July 30th, 2012

by Ara Khachatourian Share Print

Syrian-Armenian community leader Jirair Rayisian

YEREVAN, ALEPPO (Yerkir)-There is no threat that the Armenian community
in Syria will be displaced or vacated, the spokesperson for the Syrian
Prelacy, Jirair Reyisian said in an exclusive interview to
on Monday.

As news outlets report on the increasing tensions in Aleppo, Syria's
largest city and home to the largest concentration of Armenians in
Syria, the community has taken measures to help, fortify and protect
the Armenian community there.

Rayisian explained that, under the auspices of the Prelacy, Armenian
organizations, institutions and youth have come together to ensure
that community members and others living in these areas are unharmed
and the needs of the community are met. Through volunteer neighborhood
watch groups and organizational centers, the Armenian neighborhoods
in Aleppo, Damascus and elsewhere are being protected.

Rayisian explained that the heavy fighting in Aleppo has not yet
impacted the Armenian neighborhoods, but has made essential supplies
scarce, with most municipal services, such as garbage collection,
have been halted. As such, Rayisian said, that the area youth have
undertaken this effort to ensure that the accumulating trash does
not cause spread of diseases and other matters that could complicate
the situation.

He also reported that all stores remain closed and people, generally,
are staying home.

The escalating violence in Syria has led to concerns in Armenia and
elsewhere about the fate of the important Syrian-Armenian community.

Some in Armenia have protested the government, urging immediate action
to accommodate Syrian-Armenians who are leaving their communities and
seeking refuge there. The Armenian government last passed measures
that significantly ease conditions for acquiring Armenian passports
by Lebanese and Syrian citizens.

On the other hand, calls for assistance to the Syrian-Armenian
community continue with the Armenian Relief Society establishing a
fund in May to secure the needs of the community. His Holiness Aram
I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia has also called for
mobilization of all Armenian to help the Syrian Armenian community.

Rayisian said that returning to the homeland and making Armenia their
home has always been a dream for every Armenian. But, in practical
terms, the current situation in Armenia, as well as the economic
conditions in Syria are impeding such mass exodus to Armenia.

The lack of jobs, resources and an infrastructure in Armenia, coupled
with the severe economic crisis in Syria are making it difficult for
people to move to Armenia. However, Rayisian said, if the Armenian
authorities were to make necessary arrangements, as an emergency
and temporary basis, then many Syrian Armenians might consider a
relocating to Armenia.

Despite all the difficulties, Rayisian stressed that the
Syrian-Armenian community will forever protect the historic community
and will continue the unwavering advancement of the historically
significant community.

"There is no danger or threat of the Armenian community being emptied,
displaced or dissolved," stressed Rayisian.

From: A. Papazian