Gianmarco Maraviglia | Photojournalist

Land of Fathers

In 21 March 2014 the city of Kessab was attacked by al-Nusra Front, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda. Christian Syrian Armenians who had lived and worked in this region were forced to flee, leaving behind businesses and properties. I decided to follow those who had traveled back to their native Armenia. “Land of Fathers” explores the new challenges many refugees have faced in the months following the conflict, trying to readjust, away from the prosperity they had previously known in Syria. For many Syrian Armenians who fled to Armenia, the desire to maintain some semblance of their previous social status determined the areas of the country where they live. Wealthier families rented nice homes in the center of Yeravan, the country’s capital. But their savings soon disappeared because of the lack of available steady jobs. In response, the Armenian government proposed building a luxury housing complex called “New Aleppo,” along with several other new housing quarters across the region. But the proposal soon came under fire, with complaints that the housing complex was geared towards the rich rather than being accessible for everyone. The poorer among the refugees have been more or less forced to move to Karabakh, a mountainous landlocked region in present-day eastern Armenia and southwestern Azerbaijan. As modern settlers, refugees have been given free housing and land to farm in the remote area. Prior to the conflict in Syria, Armenia still represented the homeland of their language, culture and religion. The uncertainty of being able to sustain their livelihood for the future, however, has left many suspended between the melancholy of exile and the material difficulties of integration

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