Syrian refugees finding welcome in Armenia: Forbes

Syrian refugees finding welcome in Armenia: Forbes

PanARMENIAN.Net - Stories of Syrian refugees rebuilding their lives in Armenia resonate because of the history of the connection between Syria and Armenia, Elizabeth MacBride, a Forbes contributor says in an article.

“One hundred years ago, during the Armenian Genocide, Syria became a refuge for families that survived forced marches and mass violence in the desert between the two countries. Now that the tables are turned, Armenia is welcoming Syrian refugees: a population of about 17,000 has come to the country of about 3 million,” MacBride says.

“Before the Genocide, Aleppo had had an Armenia community dating to the Silk Road that led from China to Venice and passed through both Syria and Armenia, according to lawyer Harout Ekmanian, a Syrian who worked for a few months in Armenia in 2012 before moving to New York. When the Genocide happened, the Armenians living in Aleppo led the humanitarian effort, and as a result, grew an even stronger community in the city, one that lasted and sustained its culture until now.”

Unveiling the story of Shaghig Rastkelenian, a refugee who fled Aleppo with her family four years ago, the author says Syrian refugees are finding a welcome in Armenia.

Though they aren’t able to continue in their same lines of work or businesses — a shopkeeper in Aleppo might find a market stand in Yerevan — they are finding community and support, the article says. For instance, Rastkelenian said, Syrian Armenian students attend school for free.

“I love Armenia. It’s my job, I think, to love it. I want to live here. I don’t want to go anywhere else,” said Rastkelenian. Her two sisters, and mother are working in the restaurant, which seats 35-40 and is called Zeituna.

As the Syrian refugee diaspora spreads across the world, one of the first signs of their integration into the communities where they land is turning out to be restaurants.

“I think hard-working people can find life where they want,” Rastkelenian said.

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