This article is part of a series of stories written by the young people who took part at our seminar “A call for peace for all”. They include real life stories of people who left their countries and/or information about migration in one of the European countries where MIJARC Europe has members. All those whose names or any other identification data appear in the articles have given their written consent for making this information public.
In the context of the topic chosen for this year by our member movements – peace – we have launched an online campaign of peace messages and quotes under the #nevertakepeaceforgranted slogan. This campaign is part of our work plan which also includes two international activities and a travelling exhibition on the topic of peace. The first international activity of our work plan was preceeded by a preparatory phase during which our members had to interview/discuss with at least two people who had left their countries and are now know as “migrants”, “refugees” or “asylum seekers”. To our members they are just people, as are those living next to us. They have emotional and unusual stories, they live in different conditions but as our participants discovered they have not forgoten to be kind, tolerant, open and to forgive.
Here we bring you the article written by the participants from Armenia.
Article written by:
Being considered as the worst humanitarian crisis of nowadays, the Syrian refugee crisis is one of the major and complex issues in the world. According to Armenian officials, more than 22,000 Syrians have been forced to leave their homes and come to their ancestral homeland since the start of the conflict in 2011. By 2015, the United Nations refugee agency said Syrian refugees accounted for six of every 1,000 people in Armenia.
Currently, Syrian Armenians have various legal statuses in Armenia, including Armenian citizens (dual citizens), refugees, asylum seekers, and persons with temporary or permanent residence (one/five/ten years). According to the Armenian Ministry of Diaspora a total of 10,707 people received citizenship in the period of 2012-2014. Refugee and asylum seekers comprise a smaller number, around 700-800 Syrian-Armenians, for the period of 2012-2013.
According to the Migration Service of Armenia: 236 people were granted asylum, of which 136 provided with shelter. Considering the regional developments and multiple challenges Armenia faces today, the need for a relevant infrastructure to address the social and economic issues of Syrian-Armenians becomes extremely urgent.
The arrivals are still ongoing (86 persons in 2017). It should be noted that Armenia also hosts refugees and asylum-seekers from Iraq, Ukraine and Iran and smaller numbers of refugees from some African countries. Moreover, about 600 of the persons displaced in consequence of the escalation of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in April 2016 remain in Armenia and have been now integrated into the general assistance and integration activities.
We were pleased to have a talk with Ramella Khanoyan, who left her home in Aleppo, Syria and came back to Armenia during the war.
“I arrived in Armenia with my family several years ago. I was 11 years old, when the war began. At first, I couldn’t believe that it was a reality. The first shock happened in March 2011, when I was going to take part in a dancing concert in Aleppo. I had waited for that concert so much. It was one of my biggest dreams to participate in it. We were practicing at the hall with my friends and tutors, when suddenly the first bomb exploded. At first we couldn’t imagine that a war started. We felt like unconscious people, but in a few minutes realized that it is not a dream. We escaped from there, and everything got cancelled. Afterwards, similar attacks occurred and I started getting used to it. I have lost a lot of acquaintances, friends and neighbors day by day. The situation gradually became worse and worse, and my parents made a decision to abandon. I remember how frightening it was our way to the airport. We took a taxi, can’t remember how luckily passed the border and immediately went to Damaskos. It is a pity, that we left our childhood, friends, memories there in Aleppo. But anyway, I would never leave my homeland and go back. Armenia is the only place, that I should live in. There is no place like HOME”.