Schiff Meets with Bishop Nalbandian of Damascus Diocese

Rep. Adam Schiff with Damascus Diocese Primate Bishop Armash Nalbandian

WASHINGTON—This week, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) met with Bishop Armash Nalbandian, primate of the Armenian Church of Damascus, who is in the United States with several other Syrian Christian leaders to discuss the plight of Syria’s Christians.

“Bishop Nalbandanian and his colleagues described the extreme insecurity and fear of their people and asked Congress and the President to speed the disbursement of aid to the millions of Syrians who have suffered from the civil war, but remain in Syria,” said Schiff. “The Bishop’s report echoes what I have been hearing from other sources about the disparity in resources directed to Internally Displace Persons (IDPs) and those who have escaped to one of the neighboring states.

“I have been focused on Syria and the plight of Christians there since the start of the uprising against Bashar Assad. We must continue to press for greater assistance and to permit the humanitarian parole of Syrians with approved immigrant petitions to the United States, many of whom are Christians.”

“We want to share our appreciation for all the good work that His Grace Bishop Armash Nalbandian is doing here in Washington to educate legislators and engage American leaders in the urgent task of addressing the dire and dangerous circumstances facing Armenians, other Christians, and all at-risk Syrian minorities,” said Aram Hamparian, Executive Director of the ANCA.

“Clearly, the U.S. government must do much more with our global partners to close the longstanding aid delivery gaps that have, for far too long, left vulnerable Armenians in Syria – particularly in the Aleppo area – beyond the reach of international assistance programs,” added Hamparian.

Reps. Schiff and Frank Wolf (R-VA) wrote last year to the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) urging the use of humanitarian parole – which would provide a temporary visa for those in an emergency situation – to the estimated six thousand Syrian nationals’ cases with approved immigrant petitions. This would allow Syrians who have been waiting for a visa to reunite with their family members in the United States without delay. Of the fleeing refugees, members of religious minorities, including the country’s Christian population, are especially at risk, and many have sought refuge in the United States.

Bishop Nalbandian will be a featured speaker during a February 10 lecture organized by the Syrian-Armenian Relief Fund, scheduled to be held at the at the Nazareth and Sima Kalaydjian Hall at the Western Diocese in Burbank.

Bishop Nalbandian will be joined by Dr. Krikor Adanalian for the event.

“This is a great opportunity for our concerned community to hear first hand the status quo on the ground and renew our commitment to reach out and help the Syrian Armenians survive this crisis,” remarked Zaven Khanjian, SARF Executive Committee Chairperson.

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