We, the community of repatriates in Armenia, express our deepest condolences to the families of the victims and wish a quick recovery to those who were injured or affected by the massive explosion in Beirut.
At the same time, we urge the Government of Armenia to not only issue a statement of solidarity, but also establish a prompt action plan to assist both the country of Lebanon in this day of grave crisis in a gesture of friendship, and the Armenian community in Beirut. The Government of the Republic can and should lead the process, which will then also allow Diasporan institutions and individuals to join.
Some of the more immediate actions are subject to a 24-hour decision-making process while others must be implemented in a matter of days. However, there is no time to allow these to drag for weeks or months. Our suggestions to the government for immediate actions taken are:
- Send a group of Armenian doctors/rescuers to Beirut on a special flight with medical equipment/supplies to be able to work in field conditions and assist the injured. This will help alleviate the stress on working hospitals now that those in the city of Beirut have been heavily damaged and many with a variety of illnesses, including COVID-19, are left without care.
- Provide immediate assistance if possible and organize an online fundraising campaign IMMEDIATELY using Hayastan All Armenian Fund as the ideal platform to collect donations to help the Lebanese Armenian Community in this time of crisis; this will be based on the Lebanese Armenian community’s needs assessment, prioritizing shelter, health and food issues within the Armenian population first and foremost. The Armenian repatriates’ community, as well as our friends living in the Diaspora, will be happy to join a well-coordinated fundraising initiative. We are happy to spread the word and participate in the fundraising financially.
- Collect information about Lebanese-Armenians who would like to go to Beirut from Yerevan in order to assist friends and families in overcoming the worst of the crisis, or bring them back to Armenia; currently, the flights are only once a week.
- Have the Armenian Embassy in Lebanon proactively collect information about Lebanese Armenians (citizens/residents of Armenia) who would like to return to Armenia. Organize FREE charter flights for those who are ready to return to Armenia.
- Expedite the process of receiving residency or citizenship, offering it for free, ensuring those looking to obtain legal status may do so with relative ease within the following weeks.
As mentioned above, we are not just calling on the Government of the Republic of Armenia for actions, but are ready to join all relevant initiatives either financially, organizationally, or informationally. Also, we believe it’s time for the governing bodies to develop a crisis management mechanism that they would be able to initiate and implement in a timely and substantive manner for our Diasporan communities under threat, through the combined efforts of the Republic of Armenia and her Diaspora.