RELOCATION WITH A REASON: SOME SYRIAN-ARMENIAN FAMILIES FIND ADVANTAGES TO RESETTLE IN KARABAKH
FEATURES | 20.03.13 | 15:47
Kashatagh region capital Berdzor
By GAYANE MKRTCHYAN
Numerous Syrian-Armenians have moved to Armenia because of the war
in Syria, many among them further moved and have settled in the
internationally unrecognized Nagorno Karabakh Republic’s Kashatagh
This southwestern part of Karabakh has now 23 Syrian families totaling
71 people. The first family moved there much earlier, in 2008, even
before the war broke out. The majority of families migrated from
northeastern Syrian Qamishli city on the border with Turkey.
Enlarge Photo Vardan Poghosyan with his wife
Vardan Poghosyan’s family is one of them. He moved to Kashatagh
together with his wife and 18 month-old daughter. They live in the
region’s capital Berdzor. Both are accountants and have jobs, and
soon will be allotted an apartment.
“It was my decision to come directly to Karabakh. Rather than going to
Europe or America, why not come and live in our homeland. Of course,
there are many difficulties, but we have to endure. After all, we
have lived in a foreign country more than enough,” Vardan, 29, told
ArmeniaNow, adding that following their example his brother Serob,
too, moved there with his family, in-laws and relatives.
Some of the Syrian-Armenian families live in Kovsakan, the second
largest city, and Ishkanadzor of Kashatagh region. Robert Matevosyan,
head of the re-settlement department of Kashatagh administrative
district, says the first families who had moved to Kovsakan now
have private houses, for the others a multi-storey building has been
renovated and apartments have been allotted.
“In Berdzor they still live in the guesthouse, soon will have their
own apartments provided to them free of charge with an ownership
right. Those families that will adapt and stay, will later be given
the property ownership certificate,” Matevosyan told ArmeniaNow.
“People with professions are now employed, rural families have been
given land lots. The state has granted agricultural loans with zero
interest rate. People have sown wheat, oats, and will return the
money when they harvest the crops.”
In 1992 (during the war) Armenian forces took control over Berdzor
(Lachin) town and the Lachin corridor, which was also called the
“road of life”, since it was the only land communication between
Karabakh and Armenia. Zangelan, Kubatlu and part of Lachin (which are
among the seven disputed regions around former Autonomous Republic
of Nagorno Karabakh have been re-arranged into Kashatagh region with
3,376 sq.km total area, and the re-settlement of this area is of
strategic importance. By the 2011 data of the NKR labor and social
affairs ministry, 8,500 people reside in Kashatagh.
Matevosyan says they are expecting another stream of people to
“We got the applications a while ago. Some 4-5 families have come
to learn the terms. In any case we are ready to accept everybody. We
continue building new houses and repairing the old ones. They adapt,
live overcoming the challenges. There are language issues, but they
are being overcome as well,” says Matevosyan.
Not only the NKR authorities, but also Kashatagh, the Tufenkian
Foundation, Assistance to Self-Determined Artsakh charitable
foundations are supporting the Syrian Armenians to settle in Karabakh,
as well as Help Your Brother relief initiative for Syrian-Armenians.
According to Diaspora ministry data, some 6,000 families have moved
to Armenia forced out by the military actions in Syria, 300 among
them reside in the provinces of Armenia.