Armenian Community in Iraq Unharmed

Armenian churches and other establishmen’s in Iraq have not been hit during US-led air strikes during the past days–according to Armenian Church and community representatives in Iraq.

Speaking with the Yerevan-based Yerkir weekly on March 23–Iraqi-Armenian community representatives told our sister publication that no casualties have been reported among Armenia’s in Baghdad–Mosul–or Basra.

Baruir Hagopian–an Iraqi-Armenian representative–told Aztag daily of Beirut on March 22 that the heavy bombardment of Baghdad during the previous night had not caused mass civilian casualties.

Regarding the Iraqi-Armenian community–Hagopian confirmed to our sister publication that neither the Armenian church nor other Armenian institutions have been damaged.

Hagopian added that despite the ongoing war–only a small portion of Armenian families have fled Iraq.

Aztag also contacted Kuwaiti Armenian church representatives–who said the number of Armenian families fleeing the country is insignificant. The community school–as well as other educational institutions–has been temporarily closed–although the Prelate and the Prelacy staff have remained and continue to work–they said.

Regarding a possible influx of Iraqi-Armenia’s into Armenia–the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Armenia informed several media outlets that it has not been formally contacted by the Armenian government.

There have been media reports in recent days of preparations by the Armenian government for a possible influx.

UNHCR representatives said that in view of the current military operations in Iraq–Armenia’should keep its borders open to allow all Iraqi nationals onto its territory. Similarly–Iraqi nationals who are already in Armenia’should be allowed to stay and should not be sent back to Iraq–they said.

UNHCR does not expect Iraqi nationals to arrive in Armenia in large numbers–as the majority of those fleeing from Iraq are likely to go to countries directly neighboring Iraq. However–if large numbers do arrive–the Armenian government and UNHCR have mechanisms to cope with the influx and render necessary protection and assistance to those persons.

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