AGBU Donors Worldwide Raise Over $1 Million for Emergency Relief Fund Supporting Syrian Armenians
AGBU has officially broken its $1 million fundraising mark to benefit the ongoing Humanitarian Emergency Relief Fund in Support of Syrian Armenians, which was made possible by the generosity of donors worldwide. Every penny is now at work to meet the urgent humanitarian needs of countless Syrian Armenians on the ground. Yet, as the devastating conflict unfolds with no end in sight, thousands of vulnerable families continue to look to the global Armenian community for support.
Since the outbreak of Syria’s civil war over two years ago, an estimated four million people have been internally displaced. Many have watched their homes, religious institutions, and neighborhoods be reduced to rubble. They are losses that are felt acutely by Syrian Armenians, whose presence in the country can be traced to the 11th century and whose future there is now in peril. Cities that were once safe havens for survivors of the Armenian Genocide have become battlegrounds as diasporans across the country struggle to survive.
Amidst the devastation, AGBU is working to ensure that Armenians in Syria receive the food, healthcare, shelter and emergency assistance they need. In August 2012, the AGBU District Committee of Syria formed the AGBU Emergency Body in order to cope with the humanitarian crisis. Comprised of local AGBU representatives, the Body has created its own social welfare system, registering beneficiaries, assessing their needs, and administering life-saving aid to more than 3,000 families. Throughout Syria, AGBU is now supporting emergency shelters, distribution centers and clinics staffed by volunteers trained in first-aid. With care and determination, over 100 AGBU volunteers are risking their lives every day to ensure that the elderly, sick and injured are among those who remain a priority as conditions deteriorate.
While a scarcity of fuel and public transportation has made it nearly impossible for scores of Syrian Armenians to leave the country, those who have found refuge in Armenia and Lebanon face their own challenges. Not knowing when—or if—they will be able to return home, those individuals have relied on AGBU for housing stipends, grocery coupons, medicine, warm clothing and school fees. Last year, AGBU fully subsidized tuition for 120 students who were continuing their education at AGBU schools in Beirut. Currently in Armenia, AGBU is assisting the Diaspora Ministry’s Syrian-Armenians Relief Coordination Center NGO and is forging a partnership with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to offer professional development programs to Syrian Armenians. These will include language lessons in Eastern Armenian, English and Russian, as well as web design courses. Hundreds are expected to enroll, each of whom will gain the knowledge and skills to support themselves no matter what the uncertain future brings.
AGBU is extending these lifelines to Syrian Armenians with the support of its donors, members, Chapters and Young Professionals (YP) Groups around the globe. Responding immediately and generously to AGBU’s appeal, many individuals have repeatedly donated to the Syria Emergency Relief Fund, as others organize their own grassroots fundraising campaigns. Events hosted by YP Athens, YP Boston, YP Greater New York, YP Northern California and YP Toronto have brought in thousands of dollars, while the AGBU Toronto Chapter, the AGBU France District, and the AGBU Sao Paulo Chapter have set new fundraising records, collecting over $40,000, $25,000 and $9,000, respectively. Following suit, AGBU Montreal has also pledged $10,000. Even non-AGBU entities, such as the Armenian Youth and Student Association of Austria, have joined the cause.
Together, those efforts are making a dramatic difference across the region, but resources are stretched thin as Syria’s conflict persists. Now more than ever, AGBU is relying on its donors, who know that their every contribution is directly benefitting Syrian Armenian families. AGBU Central Board member—and Damascus native—Vasken Yacoubian praised AGBU’s relief work, commenting, “AGBU was the first organization to foresee the immediate and long term needs of the Syrian Armenian community within and outside Syria, and to develop and implement an effective response strategy. As the demands change, so, too, does our approach: over the past several months, we’ve expanded from Syria to neighboring countries, going wherever we can help. AGBU will do its utmost to sustain its efforts for as long as needed. However, we need more support than we ever could have imagined, and are calling on AGBU members and Armenians everywhere to continue giving—to let the Syrian Armenian community know that they are not alone and have not been forgotten.”
To learn more about AGBU’s humanitarian work for Syrian Armenians, visit: http://agbu.org/syriahumanitarianrelief/.
To contribute to the relief effort, visit: https://donate.agbu.org/agbu-urgent-appeal.
To make a pledge by phone, please call +1-855-AID-AGBU (243-2428) from Monday to Friday, 9 am to 5 pm (EST).
You can also send checks to:
AGBU Humanitarian Emergency Relief Fund
55 East 59th Street
New York, NY 10022.
Please indicate “Emergency Humanitarian Fund” in memo line.