YEREVAN (Armenpress) — Since the beginning of the Syrian War, 22 thousand Syrian-Armenians have re-located to Armenia.

Levon Antonyan, head of the Near and Middle East Armenian community department of the Diaspora ministry told a press conference that the Armenian government has adopted a warm and hospitable approach for them.

“They are not treated as refugees. The procedure of obtaining citizenship has been maximally facilitated. The majority of them have received Armenian citizenship. They have been given the opportunity of employment and being engaged in educational and cultural activities. We took numerous steps for them to be integrated easily. The government, international organizations and NGOs have done everything for healthcare services to be accessible, tuition fees in universities to be compensated; their accommodation needs have been realized. We have assisted businesses by providing privileged loans”, Antonyan said.

He said that since the situation in Aleppo was stabilized, certain families have arrived in Armenia as well, nearly 75 people have relocated to Yerevan in 2017. There are some Syrian-Armenians who return to Aleppo from Armenia, however these are individual cases and no flow is seen.

George Barseghyan, president of the Coordinating Center for Syrian-Armenians’ Issues NGO said one of the priority issues for the Syrian-Armenians is employment.

“Syrian-Armenians are working in Armenia, however their salary is the same as in Syria, and this, of course is troubling, however, despite the difficult conditions many prefer to stay here”, he said.

According to him, the professional skills of the Syrian-Armenians are well developed, they know the language and have the possibility to manifest themselves in all sectors. They are mainly engaged in the service sector, they are running their own restaurants or bistros. They work in the arts, science and healthcare sectors.

Sofi Nersisyan, head of the refugee department of Mission Armenia NGO said they are working with refugees from many countries. And this year, the number of their main stakeholders has reached thousand.

“They are our Syrian-Armenian countrymen, as well as refugees from Azerbaijan, Iraq and Iran. We also work with people displaced from Talish and other parts of Artsakh, as result of the April War. We give social-healthcare services, provide care, humanitarian assistance, financial support, partial compensation of apartment rent, provision of social accommodation. I have to mention that the refugees mostly have accommodation and employment problems”, she said.

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