High Commissioner for Diaspora Affairs Zareh Sinanyan says he has come across two different messages while visiting the Lebanese-Armenian community in Beirut after the August 4 explosion. Sinanyan led a government delegation to the Lebanese capital to assess the damages.
Sinanyan said that during a meeting with the spiritual leaders he received the message that the Lebanese-Armenians are firmly standing on their land and that the community will be restored, however, a different message was conveyed in meetings with individuals from different organizations.
“The panic mood people had there was obvious”, said Sinanyan. “They had the desire to leave Lebanon, many of them want to come to Armenia. I have to say that the issue is very complex. Even having that desire some of them physically cannot come because due to banking restrictions they are unable to withdraw their savings, sell their homes or businesses. These are the savings they had planned for their next home. I don’t think that this flow will happen in just a week, a month or even a year,” he said.
In one month, over 470 Lebanese-Armenians have repatriated to Armenia, Sinanyan said.
370 of them arrived on 5 different flights operated by Middle East Airlines on July 14, July 21, July 28, August 4 and August 11.
101 others were airlifted back to Armenia on board the emergency relief planes that delivered humanitarian aid to Beirut after the August 4 explosion.
“Those who came were the ones who were unable to stay in Lebanon now, they wanted to return to their homeland and we helped them”.
“These are people who are coming to settle down and live in Armenia,” he said.
High Commissioner Zareh Sinanyan stressed that repatriation is one of the strategic directions for Armenia and the government’s actions in this area are envisaged for all repatriates.