UNHCR Armenia. On 21 June 2017, at UN House in Yerevan, UNHCR in cooperation with German Development Cooperation organised an event to commemorate World Refugee Day and We Stand Together #WithRefugees campaign. The event included World Refugee Day messages by UNHCR and GIZ, presentations by Syrian-Armenian Union and women entrepreneurs, a refugee thematic theatre performance by Theatre-8 NGO, ongoing craft-sale by displaced Syrian entrepreneurs, photo and video presentations and children’s concert.
The World Refugee Day (WRD) commemoration brought together persons of concern, UNHCR government and NGO partners, UNHCR supporters and volunteers. This particular WRD event aimed to acknowledge the courage and resilience of refugee and displaced families seeking protection in Armenia. World Refugee Day served as an opportunity to praise them for their willingness to start a new life and create their future against all odds. The members of the newly established Women’s Association within Syrian-Armenian Union and other entrepreneurs had the chance to demonstrate their entrepreneurial growth: having benefitted from assistance, language and small livelihood projects, they have advanced in business education and entrepreneurship enabling them to mentor other displaced families serving for them as role models of strength, persistence and success.
During his opening speech, UNHCR Representative in Armenia, Mr. Christoph Bierwirth outlined that significant progress was made towards integration in Armenia and in achieving self-reliance, while on the other hand there are still protection challenges to be addressed in particular with regard to families who more recently arrived, who have family members with specific needs, are elderly or single headed households. Thus, Mr. Bierwirth explained “UNHCR is following a dualistic approach continuing to address the most urgent humanitarian needs while at the same time giving increasing attention to self-reliance projects.” Given this aspect the German Development Cooperation had been invited to be a co-organiser to the event reflecting the gradual move from humanitarian response to integrating refugees into the broader regional and countrywide development efforts.
“The support to refugees has many aspects and formats. While our colleagues at UNHCR handle the humanitarian aspects – GIZ, in excellent collaboration with UNHCR, complements this by moving to the development stage with the project “Economic Integration of Syrian Refugees in Armenia” (EISRA, see www.syrarbi.am) commissioned by the German government. Together with many partners, we promote decent employment and innovative entrepreneurship for income creation for Syrian refugees in Armenia’’, Mr. Hans Joachim Zinnkann, the Team Leader of GIZ EISRA said during his welcoming speech.
‘’As the UNHCR campaign runs – We Stand Together #WithRefugees – we are committed to continue our joint work with partners, especially of the working group, and the Armenian government towards better conditions for Syrian refugees in Armenia – a country which welcomed more Syrian refugees per capita than many other European countries”, Mr. Zinnkann added.
Small concert by displaced children from Zaruhi Babayan Song Studio and Ghazaros Saryan art school in Yerevan, as well as a short performance by Theatre-8 NGO on the plight of displaced Syrians in Armenia impressed the audience and enriched the event.
World Refugee Day marked on 20 June gave UNHCR and its partners the opportunity to highlight the plight of displaced populations in Armenia and around the world, pay respect to refugee and displaced families, call for empathy support and action and demonstrate that We Stand Together #WithRefugees.