The European Friends of Armenia has published a paper which analyses the response of the European Union, Armenia and countries in the Middle East to the Syrian refugee crisis. The study shows that by basing its approach on solidarity Armenia has demonstrated it truly does embody European values.
Armenia has welcomed around 17 000 refugees since the start of the Syrian civil war. This makes it the third European country with the biggest number of displaced people from Syria. Only Germany and Sweden have accepted more asylum seekers. Both countries rank amongst strongest economies in Europe whereas Armenia has a GDP per capita ten times lower than the European Union average.
However, Armenia is the first European country in terms of refugees welcomed per inhabitant: it hosts 6 Syrian refugees per 1000 inhabitants, more than Germany (1) or Sweden (4). Given the social and economic situation of Armenia the paper finds that immigration from Syria has demanded a much bigger effort from Armenia than from any other European country.
The sudden income of refugee has led to a lot of discussions and tensions within the European Union, with governments bargaining over refugee quotas. In contrast Armenian officials made it clear that the state should be ready to welcome refugees and that it should worktogether with international structures and different Armenian organizations to receive them.
Though the majority of the refugees from Syria are ethnic Armenians other minorities have also found refuge Armenia. One example is the Yazidis who face brutal persecution and ethnic cleansing at the hands of various terrorist groups, both in Syria and Iraq. Upon arriving in Armenia they have been granted an asylum status.
‘Everybody talks about the refugee crisis. Sadly, we do not hear enough about Armenia, which is really reminding the world what the meaning of European solidarity is.’ says Eduardo Lorenzo Ochoa, EuFoA Director. ‘By publishing this report we want to bring this to the attention of people and show how Armenia truly is part of the European community of values.’
The paper is available on EuFoA’s website.