Armenian delegation presses humanitarian issues with local leaders in Cambridge Story

The Boston Globe
Oct 22 2023

Adelegation of five female leaders from Armenia came to Cambridge last week to press their concerns with local leaders on the refugee crisis and border security issues facing Armenians.

The delegation was sent by the Congressional Office for International Leadership and hosted by the Cambridge-Yerevan Sister City Association. Cambridge and Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, have been sister cities for more than 35 years.

More than 100,000 Armenians were forcibly displaced from Nagorno-Karabakh, an Armenian region in Azerbaijan, said Lilit Hajatyan, one of the delegates and member of the Community Council of the Artik Consolidated Community.

The refugee crisis and Armenia’s border security were among the main topics of discussion throughout the week.

“The biggest challenge Armenia is facing now is the issue of security,” Hajatyan said through an interpreter.

Hajatyan said the delegation raised it in every meeting with local and state representatives. Officials listened to their issues, but Hajatyan said what’s needed is a clear plan of action.

“I would like to see the US government step up and actually do some steps beyond just expressing concerns,” she said.

The country has already received some humanitarian aid from the United States and other countries. “But I don’t think that this is enough to resolve this issue once and for all,” Hajatyan said. “We are going to need more assistance.”

The delegation discussed best practices for governance with local leaders in Cambridge, Lancaster, and Fitchburg: state legislators, educators, and nonprofit leaders.

Hajatyan said they were able to learn about the challenges of women involved at different levels of government, as well as different tools and strategies to tackle issues such as domestic violence and the integration of refugees into Armenian society.

Hajatyan said she will take what she learned back to their homes and use it in her everyday life and work.

“I have a list of things that we can do in Armenia when I get back,” she said.