“Five Years of Crisis: Five Years of Struggle for a New Life” event devoted to World Refugee Day

On June 18, Ararat Hall of Armenia Marriott Hotel Yerevan hosted the event entitled “Five Years of Crisis: Five Years of Struggle for a New Life”, which was organized by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and Oxfam Armenia and held on the sidelines of the UNHCR’s “We Stand with Refugees” and Oxfam’s “With Syria” campaigns.

RA Minister of Diaspora Hranush Hakobyan, Representative of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Armenia Christoph Bierwirth and Director of Oxfam Armenia Margarita Hakobyan gave their opening remarks at the event.

The Minister of Diaspora greeted the gathered and stated the following: “Dear Syrian-Armenians, it is my pleasure to express my greetings to you in your Homeland. The smartest decision that you made during the first days of the Syrian war was your decision to return to your Homeland. Thank you. I am happy that you are able to work and create here, dedicate yourselves and make your contributions to the development of Armenia. I want to believe that the hardships are in the past. All of us, the state, the Ministry of Diaspora, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and international organizations, have to do everything we can to be able to work, become strong and empower our Homeland. Today we are marking World Refugee Day, which is and is not your day. You are not refugees. You are in your Homeland.”

Director of Oxfam Armenia Margarita Hakobyan stated that the number of refugees is on the rise and that this is a troubling challenge for everyone. Addressing the Syrian-Armenians, she added the following: “You are not refugees. You are our compatriots, and you have introduced your culture for the development of Armenia. Oxfam and the Ministry of Diaspora carry out projects that will help you grow and integrate in Armenia. You will be able to become self-sufficient.”

Representative of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Armenia Christoph Bierwirth stressed the following: “Distinguished Mr. Ambassador, Mrs. Minister, respected guests. Today we are marking a day devoted to people who were forced to be displaced and find a safe haven. When we say five years of a crisis, we mean five years of elimination, suffering and death. Unfortunately, the Syrian war is not the only war. There are other countries that are on the verge of perdition. Peace is very fragile. The five years of the Syrian war have been five years of struggle. The government, the regional and international organizations and the people of Armenia have helped the Syrian-Armenians. I would like to express gratitude to the Minister of Diaspora for the fruitful efforts and cooperation.”

The gathered respected the memory of the victims of the war with a moment of silence.

The event featured performances of the songs “Ave Maria” and “Kilikia” by Zaruhi Babayan and the students of her Song Studio.

An exhibition-sale of handmade items made by Syrian-Armenian businessmen, a photo exhibition devoted to refugees and a candlelight vigil were held during the event.

The event ended with the presentation of the book “Crossroads” published by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and a showing of Syrian-Armenian stylist Kevork Shadoyan’s collection of children’s clothing.

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