Inter-Agency Commission on Coordination of Syrian-Armenians’ Issues holds session at Ministry of Diaspora

On February 23, the Ministry of Diaspora of the Republic of Armenia hosted the session of the Inter-Agency Commission on Coordination of Syrian-Armenians’ Issues.

The session began with opening remarks by RA Minister of Diaspora Hranush Hakobyan, who greeted the members of the Commission, addressed the activities that Armenia has been carrying out for Syrian-Armenians’ integration throughout the past years and stated that it is very important to have precise information about the current state of affairs in Syria and Iraq.

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Armenia Armen Papikyan delivered a report on the current state of affairs in Syria and Iraq and on the issues of the Armenian communities of those countries. He stated that the Syrian conflict has entered a new stage and that efforts are still being made for a peaceful resolution of the Syrian conflict. Touching upon the situation of the Armenian community of Syria, the speaker stated that reconstruction efforts are underway and nearly 1,000 jobs have been created. Assessing the situation in Iraq, he stated that even though the year 2017 stood out as the most positive and the most promising year in the modern history of Iraq and even though nearly 95% of the country’s territories have been liberated, the key issue of the Armenian community remains the unstable and dangerous situation, uncertainty and difficult social conditions.

Head of the Department for Passports and Visas of the Police adjunct to the Government of the Republic of Armenia Mnatsakan Bichakhchyan presented data regarding Syrian-Armenians who acquired Armenian citizenship and obtained residency status in 2017. The speaker also touched upon the key issues that have emerged and mainly concern citizenship and residency status in the Republic of Armenia. “This year, 1,208 Syrian-Armenians and 1,43 Lebanese-Armenians have applied to acquire citizenship of the Republic of Armenia,” he added.

Representative of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Armenia Christoph Bierwirth presented the activities carried out in 2017 and the programs for the year 2018. The speaker attached importance to the creation of a clear-cut database for Syrian-Armenians that will feature precise information about the number of Syrian-Armenians, their moves, residency and employment. He stated that it is necessary to record the successes, develop a strategy on integration and continue with the policy on sustainable development of the displaced persons.

Program expert of the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) Karine Simonyan delivered a report on the programs carried out for Syrian-Armenians’ economic integration and particularly presented the tasks that have been completed to help Syrian-Armenians’ businesses grow.

Summing up the session, Minister of Diaspora Hranush Hakobyan attached importance to the continuity of the economic, healthcare, educational and social programs for Syrian-Armenians’ integration, expressed gratitude to the partnering organizations for their work and invited everyone to participate in the exhibition-sale of handicraft works of Syrian-Armenians to be held on March 6.

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