Lebanese Evacuees Seek Refuge in Armenian Community

BEIRUT (Aztag)–As the number of displaced people increased as a result of the Israeli attacks on Lebanon–many Lebanese refugees sought refuge in Armenian community establishmen’s in and around Beirut Wednesday–the Aztag newspaper reported.

Public school building have been turned into shelters for evacuees. Aztag reporters toured the Bourdj Hammoud neighborhood and discussed the situation with several refugees.

To address the needs of the affected population–the Armenian Revolutionary Federation Lebanon Central Committee announced the establishment of a task force–which will organize relief efforts in and around area–coordinating activities with city hall and relief organizations working in the area.

The Armenian Relief Society Araxi Boulghourjian infirmary has been designated as the headquarters for the efforts.

The ARF CC of Lebanon issued an announcement Tuesday–pledging all its organizational resources to the affected Lebanese public. This announcement and other details about the ARF-initiated efforts were broadcast on Lebanese television and radio–as well as other media outlets.

The Lebanon Prelacy issued an announcement Wednesday condemning what it called the barbaric attacks by Israel on Lebanon.

Armenia’s Ambassador to Lebanon Vahan Ter-Ghevondian held a press conference Wednesday afternoon–announcing that Armenia’s Embassy in Beirut would continue its operations.

"Our embassy will be open 24 hours a day and our staff has been answering phone calls and inquiries regarding the developmen’s and continues to accept visitors," said Ter-Ghevondian–adding that through the embassy’s and Armenia’s foreign ministry’s efforts Armenian citizens were being evacuated to Armenia.

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported that some 200 more Armenian citizens and other residents of Lebanon will be evacuated to Armenia on Thursday amid the continuing Israeli assault on the tiny Arab state–the Foreign Ministry in Yerevan said on Wednesday.

A ministry spokesman–Vladimir Karapetian–told RFE/RL that the evacuees will be transported to Syria by bus and then fly to Yerevan on board two Armenian airliners. "Most of them are citizens of Armenia," Karapetian said. The evacuees will be accompanied by Armenian diplomats during the high-risk journey from Beirut to Aleppo–he said.

According to the ministry–160 Armenia’s and dozens of Lebanese citizens of Armenian descent have already escaped to Armenia’since the start of devastating Israeli raids on civilian and guerrilla targets in Lebanon on July 12. It says some 1,200 Armenian nationals lived in the country before the assault.

Prime Minister Andranik Markarian has promised to provide "state support" to them and other Lebanese residents who would like to take refuge in Armenia. Two Armenian diplomats have been sent to Lebanon and Syria to assist in their voluntary evacuation.

"I wouldn’t say there is a big influx of evacuees from Lebanon right now," said Karapetian. "It’s just that we are prepared for such an influx because it is not clear when all of this will end."

The official added that no Armenian casualties have been reported so far.

"There is no mass exodus of Armenia’s yet," Shahan Kandaharian–editor of the local Armenian-language "Aztag" daily based–told RFE/RL from Beirut.


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