Artsakh refugees

By Gayane Muradyan

Special to the Mirror-Spectator

YEREVAN — The Artsakh Refugees Aid Program launched by the Tekeyan Cultural Association of the United States and Canada (TCA) is aiding the forcibly displaced Armenians from Artsakh in a transparent and documented manner. In addition to burn victims and their families, TCA is helping families with many members and the social disadvantaged.

Each of the families which left Artsakh faced unique difficulties before reaching the settlement of Kornidzor, which is near the city of Goris in the Syunik province of Armenia. Families that had many children, handicapped members, or were economically disadvantaged were in an even more challenging situation than others. The children were perhaps the ones who suffered the most during the wars and fighting, as they bear throughout their lives the imprint of the psychological stress and panics which they endured, perhaps even disrupting their conceptions of good and evil.

Here some examples of the families which received assistance through the Tekeyan Cultural Association.

Heghinar Arzumanyan’s family of nine lived in the village of Tumi, Hadrut district, with girls (ages 9, 17, and 19) and boys (ages 6, 8, 12, and 13). They had a big house and a garden. The thought of living in Artsakh again is a thing of the past. Now they live in a three-room apartment in the city of Charentsavan in the Kotayk province of Armenia. They have adapted to their new circumstances.

Heghinar Arzumanyan and her family

Get the Mirror in your inbox:

Alla Stepanyan is 39 years old. The number of members in her family is ten. They lived together in Artsakh near Martakert district in Mataghis village. After the war they moved to the city of Stepanakert. Alla’s husband was killed in the 44-day war in 2020. Her two sons, Samvel and Arsen, were killed on September 19 this year in local battles.

Alla Stepanyan and her family

Now Alla lives with her 62-year-old father, her mother Alvina of the same age, her brother Andranik and his wife Nune, the latter’s children: 8-year-old Kamo, 6-year-old Albina, eleven-month-old Ariana, and Alla’s sister Anahit, whose husband was killed, and their 12-year-old son Vahe.

In this multi-member family, it is very difficult for the children to adapt to their new place of residence. Alla declared, “It is as if people’s souls are there [in Artsakh], while the hearts are here. The day we can take back those lands, not one of us will remain here.”

The nine-member family of 29-year-old Lusine Movsisyan, who is sick and undergoing chemotherapy, lived in Stepanakert, the capital of Artsakh, including her husband Hovhannes, 6-year-old autistic son Levon, 2.5-year-old daughter Marie, her husband’s sister Khasvard (whose husband died on September 20, 2023 during the Azerbaijani invasion), the latter’s son, 5-year-old Hayk, 3-year-old daughter Maria, mother-in-law Alvardi, and 73-year-old father-in-law Vladimir. Now they all live together in the city of Sevan, which is in Gegharkunik Province, Armenia.

Lusine said, “We chose a place that is close to the hospital, because my son and I need to visit the doctor every month. It will be necessary to buy 50,000 drams of medicine every month just for my autistic son, Levon.”

The seven-person family of 36-year-old Gegham Bejanyan lived in Artsakh in Stepanakert. Now Gegham, his wife Valentina, daughters 7-year-old Nune, 6-year-old Katarina, 3-year-old Susanna, son 7-year-old Mihran, and his 72-year-old mother live in Aznvadzor village of Lori Province in a house which is not in good shape. He said, “We left Artsakh with our family and other relatives. We all live in houses close to each other. We will try to adapt and cultivate the land. Of course we don’t expect to live like we did before, but at least we are safe and calm.”

The ten-person family of Avo Paramazyan is from Mushkapar Village of the Martuni district of Artsakh. The family settled in Karbi Village, in Armenia’s province of Aragatsotn. Avo’s father Ararat is 53 years old, married to his mother Susanna. His grandmother Anzhela is 91. There are his brothers 21-year-old Armo, 18-year-old Arsen, 17-year-old Arayikk, 15-year-old Aram, and 9-year-old Ashot, along with his father’s sister Arega (whose son was killed on September 19 defending positions).

Avo and his large family owned their own house in their village in Artsakh and earned their livelihood through agriculture. Avo said, “Now it is difficult to find work in Armenia. What should we do? We will have to survive until spring so that we can to do agricultural work.”

These are only some of the heartbreaking accounts we learn about as we interview aid applicants. TCA is attempting to alleviate the sufferings of as many as possible who are in the most dire situations.

Of the roughly 120,000 Armenians from Artsakh who were forced to emigrate from Artsakh to Armenia, facing a diminished fate and unfortunate future, about 3,000 people have left Armenia as of October 20. If the Republic of Armenia is unable to stand up for and take care of the people of Artsakh who have lost their homes, dreams and future, many will leave.

This is where we should unite as a nation and help to overcome the temporary problems and worries of the people of Artsakh. With the help of our compatriots in the diaspora, we must create a suitable environment for them, and provide housing and employment, so that they do not feel like strangers in Mother Armenia.

Assistance programs for Artsakh Armenians continue. Please join in our efforts, as the Armenians of Artsakh need all our help.

TCA gratefully acknowledges all who have donated so far, including the generous gifts of John Kostanian ($20,000) and Paul Ahmaranian ($5,000) from Canada, and Sarkis Satian ($10,000) and Michael Norehad ($10,000, Norehad Charitable Foundation) from the USA.

If you want to help, please send donations in the USA to the following address: Tekeyan Cultural Association Artsakh Aid, 755 Mount Auburn Street, Watertown, MA 02472, or online at; and in Canada, Tekeyan Cultural Association Artsakh Aid, 825 Manougian Str., Ville Saint-Laurent, Quebec H4N 1Z5, Canada or online here.

Get the Mirror-Spectator Weekly in your inbox: