Syria’s Community Leader Discusses Crisis

Syrian-Armenian community leader Jirair Rayisian

YEREVAN, ALEPPO (Yerkir)—There is no threat that the Armenian community in Syria will be displaced or vacated, the spokesperson for the Syrian Prelacy, Jirair Reyisian said in an exclusive interview to on Monday.

As news outlets report on the increasing tensions in Aleppo, Syria’s largest city and home to the largest concentration of Armenians in Syria, the community has taken measures to help, fortify and protect the Armenian community there.

Rayisian explained that, under the auspices of the Prelacy, Armenian organizations, institutions and youth have come together to ensure that community members and others living in these areas are unharmed and the needs of the community are met. Through volunteer neighborhood watch groups and organizational centers, the Armenian neighborhoods in Aleppo, Damascus and elsewhere are being protected.

Rayisian explained that the heavy fighting in Aleppo has not yet impacted the Armenian neighborhoods, but has made essential supplies scarce, with most municipal services, such as garbage collection, have been halted. As such, Rayisian said, that the area youth have undertaken this effort to ensure that the accumulating trash does not cause spread of diseases and other matters that could complicate the situation.

He also reported that all stores remain closed and people, generally, are staying home.

The escalating violence in Syria has led to concerns in Armenia and elsewhere about the fate of the important Syrian-Armenian community. Some in Armenia have protested the government, urging immediate action to accommodate Syrian-Armenians who are leaving their communities and seeking refuge there. The Armenian government last passed measures that significantly ease conditions for acquiring Armenian passports by Lebanese and Syrian citizens.

On the other hand, calls for assistance to the Syrian-Armenian community continue with the Armenian Relief Society establishing a fund in May to secure the needs of the community. His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia has also called for mobilization of all Armenian to help the Syrian Armenian community.

Rayisian said that returning to the homeland and making Armenia their home has always been a dream for every Armenian. But, in practical terms, the current situation in Armenia, as well as the economic conditions in Syria are impeding such mass exodus to Armenia.

The lack of jobs, resources and an infrastructure in Armenia, coupled with the severe economic crisis in Syria are making it difficult for people to move to Armenia. However, Rayisian said, if the Armenian authorities were to make necessary arrangements, as an emergency and temporary basis, then many Syrian Armenians might consider a relocating to Armenia.

Despite all the difficulties, Rayisian stressed that the Syrian-Armenian community will forever protect the historic community and will continue the unwavering advancement of the historically significant community.

“There is no danger or threat of the Armenian community being emptied, displaced or dissolved,” stressed Rayisian.

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  1. John Ahmaranian said:

    Whereever you are, in USA, Syria, Iraq, Europe… if the land under your feet is not yours,
    you will be considered as an outsider.

  2. Tlkatintsi said:

    It sounds to me that Rayisian is living in a fantasy world, oblivious to developments impacting Syria as a whole on a daily basis. What historic Armenian community is he referring to? The bulk of the community in Syria is a direct consequence of the 1915 Genocide. We’re talking about 100 years more or less. Kessab and Haytay are another issue entirely. What guarantees can Rayisian give that the community will not be adversely affected in the long-run? Why has the community shrunk so significantly over the years, even before the recent “troubles”? If the commercial and business interests of the community are negatively impacted, this will just force more to leave Syria rather than bullets or bombs. The community can’t survive in a bubble for much longer. While I respect Mr. Rayisian’s beliefs, I don’t think he grasps the bigger picture. If the Diaspora and the RA government were really sincere about safeguarding the community in Syria, contingency plans and an emergency fund of some sort should have been drafted many months ago and in a national collaborative effort.And I’m not only talking about collecting the trash…

    • CHristo said:

      Hit the history book. Armenian history and Arab history books.

  3. Vatche Dakessian said:

    Mr. Rayisian’s comments are a bit on the naive side and hardly reassuring. The Armenian community in Syria in general and Aleppo in particular will face difficult circumstances regardless of which way the crisis ends. I would have expected community leaders to be more realistic in correctly evaluating the situation they are in and the potential dangers ahead.

  4. Christo said:

    Despite all the difficulties, Rayisian stressed that the Syrian-Armenian community will forever protect the historic community and will continue the unwavering advancement of the historically significant community.
    “There is no danger or threat of the Armenian community being emptied, displaced or dissolved,” stressed Rayisian.
    That’s the attitude that deserves praise.
    Unlike so many comments left on asbarez and other armenian media outlets by military personnel or operatives for the state department, who seem to draw a pessimistic picture and the urgency for the Armenian community to emigrate.
    We have seen how the hunchaks, the ramgavars and the AGBU lot handeled the depopulation of Iraq. Now, these same simpeltons are blaming the ARF and the Cilician Catholicosate. If any American Armenian considers the USA their home and they are willing to die for America, the same goes for any Armenian born and living in Syria should be willing to die to defend their homeland.
    The only country they should emigrate to is Western Armenia or Cilicia.

  5. Tsoghig said:

    This guy kindof sounds like the Armenians who trusted the Turks back in 1915. Lets stay and trust that the Armenians will be left untouched because they have a positive relationship with Assad. But unfortunately bombs don’t discriminate, neither do bullets. I don’t know, maybe the luxury of living inthe US made me a wussy but if I were those Armenians in Syria I would have packed my motherfu**** bags and left by now! I hope all the Armenians and Syrians survive this horrible atrocity taking place there. Asdvadz hederneen ullah.

  6. Caroline said:

    Before making any criticism/comment, one should put himself in the place of the spokesperson that is representing and talking on behalf of the prelacy. In my point of view, he and other leading members are trying their best for the entire community. Hence garbage collecting process is only a very tiny and simple example apart of which too many actions /precautions are already taken. Let us praise those, who can easily move out of the country, but they are there to support all the others who are unable to move out or even bring a piece of bread back home.