Syrian Armenians on Armenia: "It's too crowded, not enough opportunities"
In an article "Escape to the homeland", published by Luzerner Zeitung, Swiss journalist Michael Wrase wrote about difficult fate of Syrian Armenians, who fled to Armenia in hope of finding a new shelter.
The article notes that since 2012, more than 20 thousand Armenians from Syria fled to Armenia, which "not only gives refugees political asylum, but also issues passports." Virtually all Armenian refugees from Syria fled from Aleppo. "About 16 thousand of them stayed in Armenia. Most of them are living worse than in pre-war Syria," article says. "I had a popular auto shop in Aleppo," the author quotes Ovanes Degirmengyan, who now sells baklava "in one of the crowded underground passages of Yerevan." "His has low income. In order to feed family of five, 50-years-old Ovanes has to ask non-governmental organizations for help. These NGOs have taken over the responsibilities of Armenian government and help refugees to integrate. NGOs like Aleppo-ngo.org provide refugees with air tickets from Beirut to Yerevan, pay for their apartments in Armenian capital and help with jobs," article says. "Almost all of newcomers thought they would stay here only for a couple of months, and will then return to Syria," Sarkis Balkhyan, a spokesman for humanitarian organization, told Swiss journalist.
"The fact that Armenian Syrians who fled to Armenia now have to build life in the country where every third person is unemployed is a real shock for them. "The way local Armenians treat us doesn't help, we don't feel like we're home. They think that we want to take something from them," Sevak Sarkis, one of the refugees, complains. Sevak's father dreams of returning to Syria: "If the war ends tomorrow, I will be the first one to fly back one," he says, noting that he imagined "Armenian homeland" to be completely different.
In his article, Michael Wrase quotes one of the refugees from Syria's Aleppo, Anna Istanyan. Anna also sees her future far away from Armenia. "It's simply too crowded for work and for life. There are not enough prospects, there is no chance to get promoted - unlike Europe and the United States, where there are a lot of opportunities." Anna made it clear that Armenia, her "motherland", is only a temporary point on the way from Syria to the "golden West".