• Saint Mary's Armenian Church is seen in the foreground as smoke rises from across Aleppo, a city plagued by violence since summer 2012.

  • An Armenian woman struggles, emotionally and physically, to rise from her chair as volunteers help the residents leave the elderly home in Aleppo's embattled Bustan al-Basha district last October. Many of the elderly were brought to the Gulbekian hospital, in the nearby Armenian district of Midan.

  • The child in the photo and her family narrowly escaped with their lives from their home in Aleppo's Midan district. They have since taken shelter with relatives elsewhere in the city.

  • Father Zareh surveys the damage to St. Kevork Armenian Orthodox Church in Aleppo's Midan district after a severe fire in October 2012. The circumstances of the attack are still unclear, but many community members believe it to be the deliberate doing of the rebels.

  • A child looks at the damage to his neighborhood in the Old City of Aleppo.

  • Emergency crews gather in front of destroyed buildings after triple bombs exploded near the iconic Saadallah al-Jabri square of Aleppo on October 3, 2012. The central square is located in a government-held part of the city, demonstrating that nowhere is truly safe.

  • A Syrian Armenian woman weeps as she registers for United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) assistance at the Karagheusian community charity center in Beirut. She has never been to a welfare center in her life. Both social workers pictured are from Aleppo, refugees themselves. "We lived comfortably in Syria. No one needed to resort to this," one of the young women lamented.

  • Armenians in Lebanon mark the 98th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, beginning their march in Bourj Hammoud, which is now home to thousands of Syrian-Armenians. The march was poignant moment for many Syrian Armenians, the descendant of genocide survivors—now displaced from their adopted homeland.

  • Many Syrian Armenians end up completing the registration, a status that will offer them greatly reduced prices on medication and free hospital care. It is typically the women who register for the sake of their families.

  • UNHCR workers explain the role of the organization in a week-long series of sessions aimed at reassuring the community.

  • Syrian Armenians listen to a UNHCR presentation at the Karagheusian center, located in the working-class Armenian district of Bourj Hammoud. Many are fearful to register; worried that it will cause problems for them when they return to Syria.

  • Aleppo native Joel Hatzagordzian prepares traditional Arabic coffee as her sons Njdeh (left) and Garegin (center) look on. At 17, Njdeh has the luxury of attending high school, but his older brother, 21, had to forgo his acceptance at Yerevan State University to help support his family with a monthly salary of $200.

  • Syrian Armenian Anzhel Tatoyan, 65, sits beside her Iraqi-Armenian neighbor Seda. They live in communal housing in Darbnik village in Ararat province, which was renovated by the UN to accomodate Armenian refugees from Iraq. Beginning last year, Armenians from Syria like Anzhel began to join them.

  • The owners of Halab (Aleppo) grocery stand in their store, recently opened to serve the large refugee community. Items like chickpeas and foul (beans), labeled in Armenian and Arabic, are a welcome sight for many Syrian Armenians.

  • Syrian Armenians raise the flag of their homeland and their birthplace at the genocide commemoration in Yerevan.

  • Ninth grade Syrian Armenians pose in front of the Ararat mural at Yerevan's public school No. 144. Because of the lack of space at the Cilician School, some 100 Syrian-Armenians attend this public school in the center of Yerevan. It's a new environment for them and they are trying to adapt.

June 1, 2013 | Magazine Archive


Syrian Armenian Survivors

From Aleppo to Beirut, Damascus to Yerevan—the Syrian Armenians are survivors, exhibiting community solidarity and individual fortitude in the face of tragedy.

The following photos show their conditions and struggles in Syria, Lebanon and Armenia. In Syria, they are caught between battles and bombardments, carrying on amid conflict. In neighboring Lebanon, they have found safety amid a fellow Diapora community, but little stability as they navigate a life in waiting. Others are trying to rebuild lives and businesses in Armenia, many still hopeful of return to their birthplace.

All are adapting to circumstances that change by the day, for the Syrian Armenians are determined to take control of their futures, no matter how uncertain.

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