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Gyumri, land of tears and grief

8 December 2014 15:53 (UTC+04:00)
Gyumri, land of tears and grief

By Mushvig Mehdiyev

Armenia commemorates the 26th anniversary of the disastrous earthquake in Gyumri (former Spitak) region, which left a large number of casualties and huge damages. Even the time has not yet been able to alleviate the suffering of Gyumri residents.

"26 years have passed since the quake, but we haven't forgotten yet the tragic day, as the destroyed houses and streets are still in front of our eyes. Nothing has changed since then, Gyumri has lost its joyful and buoyant life," Ara Nakhshkaryan, a blogger in Gymri said.

According to him, almost no people are living in Gyumri today due to the current situation in the region. "The emigration trend is much more alarming here. Nearly 4-5 vans full of people leave the region everyday. Gyumri people permanently leave the disaster zones to save their families. About 60,000 people out of 250,000 have left so far," he said.

Official data revealed that over 15,000 residents left the region through Shirak airport in Gyumri region during the first nine months of this year. Gyumri is reportedly the poorest region in Armenia with its devastating poverty and great number of homeless residents.

Nakhshkaryan revealed a bizarre trend in the region, which "enlivens" the dead residents. He said some of the residents exhume the grave of their relatives and take their remains with themselves - it is a signal to permanent leaving.

Unemployment is the major problem of the region, according to the blogger. "One cannot own a house, it is not so tragic, but being jobless is awful. If the people have jobs, they will not wake up hungry. It is the problem of the government, but no one from the authorities is interested in the second largest city of Armenia. That's a bitter reality," he added.

Head of the NGO Shirak Center Vahan Tumasyan also blamed the government for Gyumri's recent condition, saying the authorities do not even know how the people in Gyumir survive.

"The government carried out a very silly program last year - distributing money among the people instead of making houses for them. And people spent all money to meet their personal needs and eventually did not purchase apartments. Now, nearly 3,000 families in Gyumri will keep on waiting for new apartments by living in temporary houses," Tumasyan said.

People in Gyumri unanimously complain about the same problems - unemployment, homelessness, starvation, poverty. Plastic bottles and old garments meet their need for wood to heat their dismal houses. Unbearable life has been threatening them since 2002, as they lost all hopes for better future amid the government's naive approach towards them.

Now, Gyumri residents expect the philanthropists from all over the world to see their poor life and help them, when all sparkles of hope are dashing in the devastated land of tears and grief.

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