More than 300 ethnic Armenians from Syria studying in Armenia’s universities will receive scholarships from private and government sources for the current academic year, officials in Yerevan said on Thursday.
According to Diaspora Minister Hranush Hakobian, the financial assistance will total just over 194 million drams ($404,000). She said the bulk of it will be allocated by two Armenian Diaspora charities: the U.S.-headquartered Armenian General Benevolent Union and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation based in Portugal.
The Armenian government approved Hakobian’s proposal to contribute 20 million drams of the sum. A government statement said the funding will cover 60 percent of tuition fees to be paid by 73 Syrian Armenian students.
Most recipients of the scholarships enrolled in Armenian universities after the outbreak of the bloody conflict in Syria in 2011. They took refuge in their ancestral homeland along with thousands of other Syrians of Armenian descent.
The first Armenian government scholarships to Syrian Armenian students were made available in 2012. More than 100 students benefited from them at the time.
According to government estimates, roughly 22,000 Syrian Armenians have fled to Armenia since 2011. Some of them have migrated to Europe and North America for mainly economic reasons.
Many of the remaining refugees are struggling to find jobs in the unemployment-stricken country. Some have opened shops, restaurants and other small businesses, drawing on their business experience in Syria. The government has encouraged that entrepreneurship by subsidizing business loans extended to them by Armenian commercial banks.