Armenian Culture, Science and Education Development Foundation

How the Armenians came to live among Arabs

Culture.AM Armenians

The Arab communities who helped Armenian refugees 100 years ago are now hosting different traumatised refugees.This is because Armenians who fled or survived the horrific killings, deportations and death marches of 1915-16 came to live among Arabs in different parts of the Ottoman empire, particularly in Greater Syria (now Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, and Jordan) and Egypt.
It is also worth remembering that 100 years on, Lebanon – like Turkey, Jordan, and Iraq – is hosting the world’s biggest refugee population since World War II – the Syrians.Some of these refugees are, of course, Armenian Syrians, who have been forced to flee their homes again.

In 1915, the Ottoman Empire made a desperate bid to preserve its territorial integrity. Having already lost its western lands to various nationalisms over the previous century, it was now threatened on three fronts by World War I allied powers, Britain, France, and Russia. The Ottoman interior ministry issued orders to deport Armenians from eastern Anatolia, scapegoating the entire Armenian population there for the actions of a few who had helped Russian troops in the belief that they would gain independence for Armenia by doing so.But the authorities simultaneously issued secret extermination orders, making sure Armenians were systematically massacred, or killed and subjected to beatings, robberies and rapes on the way south to Deir al-Zour in Syria.
The 1915 arrivals vastly outnumbered pre-existing communities, and settled throughout the region. Refugee camps set up on city outskirts are now permanent neighbourhoods, such as Bourj Hammoud in Beirut. Armenian churches and religious organisations were also key to helping survivors. They set up orphanages, schools, social clubs and cultural associations, and were a focus of communal life. Many of the 1915 Armenians went to great lengths to reunite with family and community members.


More: Aljazeera.com


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