Senior members of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) said on Tuesday that have stored 30 tons of key foodstuffs since launching a campaign help to ethnic Armenian and other civilians in Syria two weeks ago.
Vahan Hovannisian, the opposition party’s parliamentary leader, and another Dashnaktsutyun lawmaker, Lilit Galstian, said they are currently negotiating with cargo and insurances companies to deliver the relief aid to the Middle Eastern nation.
Galstian expressed hope that the first 15-ton batch of the assistance will be flown to Aleppo by the end of this week. “Making shipments to a war zone by plane is a sensitive matter indeed,” she told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “Security and aircraft insurance are major issues.”
Hovannisian delivered a speech in the Armenian parliament on Monday to complain about what he called a recent six-fold surge in insurance fees for flights to Syria. “That much about our patriotism and unity,” he said.
Hovannisian at the same time thanked Armenian businessmen as well as Nagorno-Karabakh’s government for contributing to the Dashnaktsutyun initiative. He said he has attracted around 15 million drams ($37,000) in cash donations so far.
Hovannisian and Galstian launched the Help Your Brother campaign on September 18. They said they expect to collect enough donations to send the first planeload of humanitarian aid to Syria before the end of the month. Hovannisian also revealed that Dashnaktsutyun representatives are negotiating with Syrian government forces and rebels to ensure the safety of the planned charter flights and aid distribution.
Syria is home to an estimated 80,000 ethnic Armenians mostly concentrated in Aleppo, the epicenter of fierce fighting between forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and the Syrian opposition. Local chapters of Dashnaktsutyun and the Armenian General Benevolent Union have for decades been the leading Armenian community organizations in the country.