NEW YORK — The ongoing and expanding militarized conflict in Syria has created a humanitarian crisis for the population and is threatening, among others, residential areas where concentrations of the Armenian community and institutions are situated, particularly in Aleppo, Damascus and Kamishli. Several families have already been dislodged as a result of the fighting among government and opposition forces and the use of heavy artillery involved.
In preparation for the imminent need for humanitarian assistance that is emerging as a result of the unfolding political crisis in Syria, the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) is committed to taking action to help the Armenian community in distress, this time in Syria.
The Central Board of Directors moved to set aside an AGBU Emergency Fund for Humanitarian Assistance to the Armenian Community in Syria, in the amount of $1 million.
A special task force, in cooperation with the District Committee of Syria, is in the process of assessing the emerging needs, to create the appropriate logistics in compliance with federal and international guidelines, to help and support the Armenian community there. Necessary arrangements are also underway in AGBU’s centers locally in Aleppo, Damascus and Kamishli, to make them operational hubs for coordinating the relief efforts, extending help to fam- ilies in other locations as well, wherever the need arises. They will also be prepared to accommodate those who may have to be temporarily moved out of their homes. The possibility of making AGBU facilities in Cyprus available as temporary shelter for families, who may need to move out of the country, is under consideration.
AGBU is in close communication with officials in Armenia to be appraised of the diplomatic efforts and social and organiza- tional initiatives being taken to address the situation.
AGBU President Berge Setrakian sent out an urgent appeal to the union’s membership worldwide to join forces and use their resources to help the Syrian commu- nity that has symbolized historically the ultimate humanitarian refuge for the survivors of the Genocide.