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Title: Armenian Refugees in Aleppo: Humanitarian Efforts and Survival Strategies: 1915-1930
Other Titles: اللاجئون الأرمن في حلب: المساعدات الإنسانية واستراتيجية لابقاء على الحياة 1915-1930
Les réfugiés arméniens à Alep : les efforts humanitaires et les stratégies de survie entre les années 1915 et 1930
Authors: Rowe, Victoria
Keywords: Armenian Refugees
Aleppo- Syria
Issue Date: 2009
Publisher: University of Balamand
Part of: Chronos
Issue: 19
Start page: 33
End page: 56
This article is an overview study of the international humanitarian response to the refugee crisis between 1915 and 1930 when Syria, and particularly the city of Aleppo, became home to tens of thousands of Armenian refugee survivors forcibly deported during the genocidal program implemented and carried out against the Ottoman Armenians by the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP) government in Constantinople. The objective of this article is threefold: the first is to determine the policies of the various governments of Syria between 1915 and 1930 towards the Armenian refugee population; the second is to examine the humanitarian efforts of international bodies, such as the League of Nations, the International Red Cross and the Near East Relief Society, to provide assistance to refugees; and the third is to identify the strategies refugees employed to ensure survival and to try to rebuild familial and communal ties. In order to assess the policies and practices of governments and international bodies as well as the survival strategies devised by refugees the article examines the flow of refugees into Syrian territory, the types of humanitarian aid available, and the political and economic conditions within Syria which were significant factors in policy-making and in providing the context in which refugees shaped their lives. Reports by officials from foreign governments and eyewitnesses working and living in Aleppo, published accounts by humanitarian workers, the records and reports on the relief activities sponsored by the League of Nations as well as refugee testimony provide invaluable information on one of the first international humanitarian efforts to address an early twentieth-century refugee crisis and constitute the basis of this article. Peter Balakian (2003) has written on the mobilization of American aid to assist Armenian refugees, while this article, although it does discuss the activities of the American Near East Relief Society, concentrates on European efforts and the involvement of the League of Nations to respond to the Armenian refugee crisis following World War I. In their seminal work, Survivors: an oral history of the Armenian Genocide, Donald E. Miller and Lorna Touryan Miller (1993) have pioneered the study of oral accounts of survivors of the Armenian Genocide, and this article has also drawn upon their example, not to discuss the circumstances of the Armenian Genocide, but in order to read survivor testimony as a valuable source for uncovering the narratives of genocide survivors as refugees. Although not all genocide survivor accounts include information on the survivor's experience of being a refugee, many do and it is these accounts that I have used in order to bring out the story of the lived experience of refugees. Refugee accounts add to the official documents written by policy-makers and officials as they tell us what it felt like for an Armenian to live in Aleppo in 1918 and what refugees did in order to survive in that city. Current policies by a body such as the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees emphasize refugee input into their own communal reconstruction and this emphasis on refugee experience and agency has also influenced the focus and questions asked in this article (Sørensen 1998:v-ix).
Open URL: Link to full text
Type: Journal Article
Appears in Collections:Chronos

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