Philanthropist Chemberjian Helps Both Syrian Armenians to Stay in Syria and Others to Emigrate to Armenia


chemberjianYEREVAN (Panorama.am) — Honorary president of the Pyunik philanthropic foundation, Kapriel Chemberjian, settled in Armenia from Damascus. He is an Aleppo native and through the foundation is helping Syrian Armenians who desire to come to Armenia. He was amazed that recently 100 Syrian-Armenians came to Armenia on an airplane that had gone to Syria to deliver humanitarian aid, and nobody took notice.

Chemberjian lost relatives in the Syrian war and said that he takes it all deeply, as no end is apparent. He said that through his organization, he attempts to assist those Aleppo Armenians who apply to come to Armenia. However, he is upset that many Syrian Armenians come to Armenia and then move to other countries.

He said, “If anybody needs aid, we provide help through the efforts of our ambassador or consul. But what is said is that when we bring them to Armenia, they only use Armenia as a bridge and after several months obtain their passports and go to other countries, [like] France, Germany, or Canada. This is a great error which must be halted, since neither the homeland nor Syrian Armenians benefit—the community there is dying. We must not work to kill the community. We must work to maintain it.”

To the observation that perhaps they are unable to find employment and do not have the possibility to live in Armenia, so for this reason they find the solution in emigration, he replied: “If there is no possibility here, is there a possibility abroad? If there is no possibility, why do they want to come here? Only to obtain passports? Only to travel abroad? Only to destroy the Syrian community? … This is the desire of the Turk. It is the Turk which wants to destroy the Syrian-Armenian community.”

Nevertheless, he said, he knows Syrian-Armenian families who emigrated from Armenia to Canada, but have not been able to get accustomed to it there and returned to the homeland.

He said that there are many places in Syria, like Kesab, Baniyas, Latakia and Tartus, which are secure and have Armenian communities. People can take refuge there and move to these towns.

He said, “If they are Armenophiles and want to preserve the Armenian community, let them go there to take refuge, and we will give them financial aid. They can find employment in all places.”

According to his information, 20,000 Armenians remain in Aleppo, and this number is decreasing. There are 400 students at the Grtasirats School of Aleppo, and 60 people work there. In other words, there are around 500 people in the school. Around half of the students’ families pay tuition, which, he said, means that they are working.

“If it is dangerous, would we be able to keep those people in that building or teach them there? There is no reason for panic. Yes, bombs are falling and there is danger, but that does not mean that they are in extreme danger. There is danger, but there is no danger to be expressed in panic. There have been worse times than these. Now it is calm. It is very good,” he observed.

In response to the observation that there are deaths and peoples’ homes are being destroyed, he declared, “There always have been losses. Excuse me. Homes also are being destroyed, yes. But there are also safe places, if they do not like Armenia…let us say that they want a roundtrip ticket. They do not want to live here. By coming here, they only intend to get an Armenian passport and emigrate from here.”

(Translated from the Armenian)