Twenty-two Syrian Armenians who escaped from the clashes in Kassab and took refuge in the village of Vakifli in Hatay province want to go stay with their relatives in Lebanon. The Turkish Foreign Ministry has initiated action to help the Armenian guests.
The Kassab Armenians, who are guests at Vakifli, the only Armenian village in Turkey’s Hatay province, want to move to Lebanon at their own request. Those who wanted to go to their relatives in Lebanon could not travel because they had no passports. This was when the Turkish Foreign Ministry intervened to solve the problem and enabled 17 of the 22 who wanted permission to travel.
Cem Capar, chairman of the Foundation of the Vakifli Surp Asdvadzadzin Church said: “Kassab is only three kilometers [two miles] from the Turkish border. Our brethren who were brought to our village on March 14 have lost their homes, gardens and relatives — in short, all their livelihood. We are trying to make them feel welcome here and not to feel their losses. We asked for support from the Foreign Ministry. The ministry is now preparing their travel documents. We are also working on their acceptance in Lebanon. We hope all these will be concluded soon.”
Capar said about 2,000 people from Kassab, whose population was 80% Armenian, had gone to Latakia. He added: “We have been hosting for a month those who came to Vakifli. They are all elderly. According to what we heard from those who came here and also from those who had gone Latakia, eight Armenians are missing. Turkey’s Armenian Patriarchate asked for the assistance of the Foreign Ministry in locating these eight persons.”
The governor of Samandag District has sent a medical team to Vakifli. Psychiatrist Belinda Masali of Yedikule [Istanbul] Surp Pircis Hospital Foundation is providing psychological support to Kassab refugees. Masali said their conditions are improving: “They are better than the day they came. They sleep better. Being in an Armenian village and speaking their own language makes them feel safe. Yes, they are worried about their future, but they are happy to hear that they will be going to be with their relatives in Lebanon.”
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