The Armenian Redwood Project through its partners in Armenia (Oxfam and Mission East) has launched the first cadre of social workers professionally trained to solely help Syrian refugees in Armenia

While the Syrian war continues escalating in 2016, NGOs in Armenia are moving beyond traditional humanitarian means and into helping refugees build new lives and integrate in the Republic of Armenia. This week, a new cadre of social workers hired by Oxfam & Mission East in Yerevan to service Syrian refugees has received specialized training to better cope with the complex needs of Syrian refugees.

The dedicated social service program is part of a more comprehensive rent subsidy assistance program to qualified Syrian refugees that have taken refuge in Armenia and the result of a commitment that the Armenian Redwood Project has assumed on itself in the aftermath of the Syrian Refugee Summit organized by UNHCR in Armenia in February 2016.  The cadre of social workers also includes guest representatives from the public sector & social workers from the Armenian Relief Society of Armenia.

According to the Government of Armenia (GoA), over 20,000 Syrian-Armenian refugees have sought refuge in Armenia since the beginning of the conflict in 2011. Adequately addressing the affordable housing crisis of refugees seems to be beyond the means of the GoA or any one organization alone. As such, ARP was established as a collaborative platform with to help provide refugees with vital humanitarian assistance. Functioning in part as an alliance between diaspora benefactors and foundations and in part as an international aid agency partner, ARP’s consortium aims to help Syrian-Armenian families in Armenia secure and maintain means to rebuild lives and integrate into Armenia's society.

Earlier in 2016, a group of social workers were competitively selected from among a large cohort of applicants by Oxfam and Mission East and a professional training program developed to further refine their skills. " Coaching and consultation sessions will follow the training and on the job training for these social workers. This will be provided by different specialist based on the Problems and Needs arising during actual work in process" said Dr. Yuliana Melkumyan who specializes in delivering social worker training.

Beneficiary of the Rent Subsidy Program in Armenia. Photo credit: James Aram Elliot

Beneficiary of the Rent Subsidy Program in Armenia. Photo credit: James Aram Elliot

Besides providing essential services to Syrian refugees in Armenia through house visits and office consultations, the social workers will also be performing important monitoring, evaluation and data collection efforts.   The training sessions will also include components of Armenia's state benefit system, delivered by a representative of the Ministry of Labour and Social Issues.  As a host country, Armenia has been absolutely exemplary in terms of the ratio of welcomed Syrian-Armenian refugees to the number of native inhabitants.

Institution building and new capacity building to facilitate integration of Syrian refugees in Armenia is part of the scope of what the Armenian Redwood Project has planned for its 2016 program with its operational partners and donors. 

" We have been functioning like an action-oriented think tank when it comes to the cause of refugees in Armenia.  We wanted the experience of the Syrians to be different than the ones that arrived previously from Baku in the 90s and the refugees from Iraq not too long ago.

silo Initiatives After 5 years of War are sub-Optimal.  We need Armenian Organizations to Cooperate Around Collaborative Platforms in Order to deliver Institutional Quality Outcomes to Refugees " said Raffy Ardhaldjian, Chief Action Officer of the Armenian Redwood Project.

" Along with UNHCR, our collaborative consortium is supporting hundreds of refugee beneficiary households through rent subsidies and now, with specialized social services, a field that is not adequately developed in Armenia. I'm looking forward to advocating the importance of such institution building with colleagues at the Ministry of Labour and Social Issues of Armenia upon my next visit to Yerevan" continued Ardhaldjian.

Refugee Housing Working Group at the Gulbenkian/UNHCR organized Refugee Summit in Yerevan. Photo credit AGBU Yerevan.


On the job training will continue with the new cadre of Social Workers with the hopes of building a specialized institutional capacity to help Syrian Refugees, As Armenia switches from the earlier humanitarian response to the crisis to new development policies.  The integration of refugees into Armenian Society will require more elaborate institutions and policies.  The training of the new cadres of social workers is a step in that direction as the war in Syria enters its 6th year.

The new cadre of social workers during their training in Yerevan Armenia, October 2016. Photo credit Oxfam Armenia

The new cadre of social workers during their training in Yerevan Armenia, October 2016. Photo credit Oxfam Armenia

The Armenian Redwood Project once again, thanks all of its generous donors and operating partners in Armenia and its various stakeholders without whom none of these outcomes would have been possible.  The 2016 Program donors include philanthropists Gerald Turpanjian, Carolyn Mugar, and Zaven Akian, in addition to the Gulbenkian Foundation, the Jinishian Memorial Foundation, the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church of North America, The Ani and Narod Memorial Foundation, Denmark’s Mission East Armenia Branch, and The Syrian Armenian Relief Fund (SARF), along with the project’s in-country partner Oxfam Armenia.

About the Armenian Redwood Project (ARP)

Founded in 2014 and pioneered by the Ani & Narod Memorial Foundation, ARP is a non-profit social enterprise alliance among Diasporan Armenian philanthropists and organizations & International aid organizations aimed at complementing the efforts of the Government of Armenia in improving the lives of Syrian refugees that have taken refuge in Armenia. As a humanitarian actor & a host country, Armenia is one of the world’s leading countries in terms of the ratio of welcomed migrants to its number of native inhabitants.


Oxfam is an international confederation of 17 organizations working in approximately 94 countries worldwide to find solutions to poverty and what it considers to be injustice around the world. Oxfam is committed to providing humanitarian aid to those in need during times of conflict. Oxfam is providing aid and long­term support to hundreds of thousands of people affected by the crisis in Syria, one of the organization’s priorities. Oxfam has already reached over 1 million people both inside Syria and in neighboring countries affected by the crisis.