On 17-18 August, Austrian Red Cross delegation visited Armenian Red Cross Society. The delegation comprises Mr. Michael Opriesnig, Deputy Secretary General, Mr. Eduard Trampusch, International Cooperation, Team Leader Europe, Ms. Andrea Winter, the Head of Communication Department, Ms. Barbara Stoeckl and Mr. Friedrich Riffer, volunteers of the Communication Department.
The aim of the visit was to get acquainted with the proccess of Austrian Red Cross funded projects, particularly support to Syrian Armenians and Psycho-social service for lonely elderly and children refugees living in dormitories projects, as well as prepare video story in order to broadcast by Austrian TV.
In ARCS Headquarters Edmon Azaryan, Head of Disaster Management and Population Movement department presented the projects implemented for Syrian Armenians, the number of beneficiaries involved, the nature of provided assistance, difficulties encountered during implementation, challenges and results to Austrian partners.
He noted that the provision of humanitarian assistance has passed to projects promoting economic and cultural integration.
- “Current program, which we started to implement starting from March this year, is titled “Promoting integration of Syrian Armenians". This project has been developed taking into account our previous experiences, and there is a great economic integration component. Our beneficiaries will set up joint businesses, and we will develop a special website for job seeker Syrian Armenians, where the employer and the specialist will be able to find each other”, he said.
The meeting was attended also by more than 10 Syrian Armenians, who had received support from the Armenian Red Cross Society.
Mr. Michael Opriesnig, Deputy Secretary General, thanked for the opportunity to meet with beneficiaries:
-“I am in Armenia for the first time, and I am very curious to get acquainted to these projects and meet those people for whom they are performed.
Mr. Eduard Trampusch added that there is a flow of Syrian refugees in Austria too, and they need to learn refugee integration experiences of other countries.
Syrian Armenians who were present during the meeting told their stories about how they moved to Armenia from Syria and about starting a new life. They all had gone through great difficulties and losses, but thanks to the support they could settle in the homeland.
Austrian Red Cross delegation also visited the Ministry of Diaspora, where they met with Levon Antonyan, Head of Armenian Communities of the Near East and Middle East Department.
He presented to the delegation Ministry`s functions and projects currently being implemented for Syrian Armenians and cooperation with the Armenian Red Cross Society.
- “We are grateful for the cooperation with Armenian Red Cross. Especially during recent inflow of Syrian Armenians, ARCS was seriously involved and actively supported them by providing tools, counseling. Recently, we jointly organized 2nd fair-exhibition, which has already become a good tradition, and, as experience shows, it is very effective for Syrian Armenians business.
They also discussed the current situation in Syria, and the further steps to support the expected inflow of Syrian Armenians.
Austrian Red Cross representatives were also at the small cafes operated by Syrian Armenians, which were opened thanks to the tools provided by the Armenian Red Cross Society, and they followed the cooking of traditional Syrian dishes.
Afterwards, they visited dormitories situated in the Artsakh street of Yerevan city and in Abovyan city, where Katarina Vardanyan, Head of ARCS Youth Department told about assistance which is being provided to refugee lonely elderly and children living in dormitories through ARCS volunteers, about project process and problems of the beneficiaries.
The guests were especially impressed with the work of dedicated and enthusiastic volunteers.
The second day of the visit, Austrian Red Cross delegation visited the Vahagn community, Lori region where they got acquainted with small mitigation project.