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Assistance to Internal Displaced People in Kessab, Syria
Geneva, 1 April 2014
1. Brief description of the emergency and impact
A brutal three-day attack by Al-Qaeda’s Al-Nusra Front and Ansar Al-Sham started in Armenian Christian (80% of Armenians and 20% of Arabs) town of Kessab (located 59 kilometres north of the port of Latakia and three kilometers away from the Turkish border), Syria early Friday morning, 21 March. Rebels looted and occupied homes and stores, tortured and killed people, 80 life losses is known. The following day, Syrian troops reportedly launched a counteroffensive in an attempt to regain the border crossing point. However, on Sunday 23 March, the extremist groups once again entered the town of Kessab, 22 people were kidnapped and taken to Turkey, with 11 people being unaccounted for. The extremists desecrated town’s three Armenian churches, pillaged local residences, occupied the town and surrounding villages. On Tuesday night, 25 March, Armenians of Kessab made an appeal to Armenians across the world for a call to humanity, help and action for saving their lives.
Some 670 Armenian families, the majority of the population of Kessab, were evacuated by the local Armenian community leadership to safer areas in neighbouring Basit and Latakia. About 40 families had to stay in Kessab, because of having elderly who were unable to move. An estimated 2,000 residents/400 families (children, adults and the elderly) found a refuge in Armenian Church in Latakia. People left with nothing but the clothes they wear, most of them have not even been able to take documents. The Church support will soon come to its end due to limited resources.
2. Why is an ACT response needed?
The concentration of the population in Church area has generated a serious problem of security, water, food and nutrition, and the people are in need of urgent assistance. The ACT Armenia Forum members are meeting today, 1 April to discuss different options of responding to the needs of the population. The forum is planning to request funds through Rapid Response Fund.
3. National and international response
The Armenian embassy in Syria is developing a plan of swift actions to help protect the ethnic Armenian population of Kessab, according to Armenian President has instructed the diplomatic missions of the Republic of Armenia to the UN in New York and Geneva offices to ask corresponding international agencies dealing with human rights and minority issues to address the issue of security of Armenians in Kessab and guarantee their safe return to their homes.
4. ACT Alliance response
ACT Armenia Forum is planning to apply for ACT Rapid Response Fund to cover life-saving needs of the displaced and affected population from Kessab.
5. Planned activities
The main activity is to purchase and food items and distribution them to the most needed families. Activities related to it will include:
- Maintain communication with the Armenian Church in Syria and coordinate the relief work with the primate of the Armenian Church of Damascus
- Set up an action group (under the supervision of the Primate) for relief activities
- Reporting by the group to ART and ART to the ACT Alliance secretariat
Under the emergency situation, there is a limited access to communication with the Armenian Church in Damascus and constrains are envisaged with lack of immediate information, which however will be tackled by using phone and internet for direct contacts with the Church leadership to ensure relief work coordination.
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