The war in Syria is in its eighth year and peace remains elusive despite the fact that ISIS forces have been all but destroyed. For the warring factions, the 500,000 dead and eight million refugees do not seem reasons enough to stop the carnage through proxy fighters while a peace settlement is being negotiated between the parties involved.
Syria is not just any country for Armenians; it is the country that a century ago took in 500,000 Armenians who had barely survived the Genocide as well as deportations from Cilicia. The shameful betrayal of the French left hundreds of thousands of Armenians who had returned to Cilicia with the promise of a home rule under a French protectorate, vulnerable and in danger of slaughter. Therefore, Syria is not a country whose plight we can face with indifference.
Armenians settled in the major cities of Aleppo and Damascus, as well as rural areas, enjoyed security and respect for their identities and their faith. They thrived in that country through their schools, churches, cultural and youth centers and the community became a net exporter of teachers, priests, intellectuals and artists to other diasporan communities.
Before the Syrian war, the Armenian community there was 110,000 strong. Today, it has been reduced to less than half that size. Many have returned to rebuild their homes, their businesses, churches and cultural centers.
Throughout the eight-year civil war, the global Armenian disapora raised funds to dispatch assistance to their brothers and sisters in that embattled country. The US Armenian community has been generous in its support for the needy Armenian families in Syria. Armenia, still a poor country, has contributed its share of relief through four plane-loads of supplies. It also has taken in 22,000 refugees from Syria, without receiving any assistance from international relief agencies to help in the resettlement. Similarly, many Syrian Armenians there have been able to attend universities for free and get help to start their own businesses in Armenia.
By contrast, Turkey was awarded billions of dollars for refugee settlement, despite the fact that it has used the refugees only as a political weapon, leaving them to live in subhuman conditions in refugee camps.