The government has proposed helping to build special residential areas in three small towns close to Yerevan for thousands of ethnic Armenians from Syria who have taken refuge in Armenia.
Diaspora Minister Hranush Hakobian revealed the idea to journalists this week, saying that the mayors of those towns have already responded positively to it. “We have agreements with the municipalities of Ashtarak, Echmiadzin and Masis,” she said. “They are ready to allocate land. They have submitted to us architectural plans of sites where small neighborhoods can be created for Syrian Armenians.”
Hakobian also said that the Diaspora Ministry is currently considering various ways of implementing the housing project, including requesting assistance from potential donors. The would-be apartments could be offered to Syrian Armenians at cut-down prices, she said. The Armenian government would lower their cost by financing construction of housing infrastructure, added the minister.
According to Firdus Zakarian, head of a Diaspora Ministry task force on Syrian Armenians, ministry officials have already started informing the refugees about the proposed scheme.
“If they build homes separately that will cost them quite a lot,” Zakarian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) on Wednesday. “But if they join forces and build four-story or five-story apartment blocks that will be much cheaper.”
According to government estimates, some 6,500 Syrian nationals of Armenian descent have settled in Armenia since the outbreak of the bloody conflict in Syria two years ago. Most of them are believed to live in rented apartments in Yerevan. Many are struggling to make ends meet in their ancestral homeland.