Relocation With a Reason: Some Syrian-Armenian families find advantages to resettle in Karabakh

Relocation With a Reason: Some Syrian-Armenian families find advantages to resettle in Karabakh

NAZIK ARMENAKYAN
ArmeniaNow

Kashatagh region capital Berdzor

Numerous Syrian-Armenians have moved to Armenia because of the war in Syria, many among them further moved and have settled in the internationally unrecognized Nagorno Karabakh Republic’s Kashatagh region.


This southwestern part of Karabakh has now 23 Syrian families totaling 71 people. The first family moved there much earlier, in 2008, even before the war broke out. The majority of families migrated from northeastern Syrian Qamishli city on the border with Turkey.

Vardan Poghosyan with his wife
Vardan Poghosyan's family is one of them. He moved to Kashatagh together with his wife and 18 month-old daughter. They live in the region’s capital Berdzor. Both are accountants and have jobs, and soon will be allotted an apartment.

“It was my decision to come directly to Karabakh. Rather than going to Europe or America, why not come and live in our homeland. Of course, there are many difficulties, but we have to endure. After all, we have lived in a foreign country more than enough,” Vardan, 29, told ArmeniaNow, adding that following their example his brother Serob, too, moved there with his family, in-laws and relatives.

Some of the Syrian-Armenian families live in Kovsakan, the second largest city, and Ishkanadzor of Kashatagh region. Robert Matevosyan, head of the re-settlement department of Kashatagh administrative district, says the first families who had moved to Kovsakan now have private houses, for the others a multi-storey building has been renovated and apartments have been allotted.

“In Berdzor they still live in the guesthouse, soon will have their own apartments provided to them free of charge with an ownership right. Those families that will adapt and stay, will later be given the property ownership certificate,” Matevosyan told ArmeniaNow. “People with professions are now employed, rural families have been given land lots. The state has granted agricultural loans with zero interest rate. People have sown wheat, oats, and will return the money when they harvest the crops.”

In 1992 (during the war) Armenian forces took control over Berdzor (Lachin) town and the Lachin corridor, which was also called the “road of life”, since it was the only land communication between Karabakh and Armenia. Zangelan, Kubatlu and part of Lachin (which are among the seven disputed regions around former Autonomous Republic of Nagorno Karabakh have been re-arranged into Kashatagh region with 3,376 sq.km total area, and the re-settlement of this area is of strategic importance. By the 2011 data of the NKR labor and social affairs ministry, 8,500 people reside in Kashatagh.

Matevosyan says they are expecting another stream of people to Kashatagh.

“We got the applications a while ago. Some 4-5 families have come to learn the terms. In any case we are ready to accept everybody. We continue building new houses and repairing the old ones. They adapt, live overcoming the challenges. There are language issues, but they are being overcome as well,” says Matevosyan.

Not only the NKR authorities, but also Kashatagh, the Tufenkian Foundation, Assistance to Self-Determined Artsakh charitable foundations are supporting the Syrian Armenians to settle in Karabakh, as well as Help Your Brother relief initiative for Syrian-Armenians.

According to Diaspora ministry data, some 6,000 families have moved to Armenia forced out by the military actions in Syria, 300 among them reside in the provinces of Armenia.