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YEREVAN, JANUARY 13, ARMENPRESS: The ethnic Armenian community in Iraq is one of the smallest and though it is not involved in the country’s political life and is doing its best to survive the country’s postwar hardships, they are not safeguarded against religious extremists. Many choose to emigrate. A special Fund was set up in Los Angeles, USA, to raise money to help Iraqi Armenians repatriate to Armenia.

Last year the Fund helped resettle four Armenian families from Iraq in Armenia. Gayane Muradian, chairman of the Armenian branch of the Fund, said this year they will resettle another 7-8 Armenian families from Iraq, overall some 30-32 people.

The Fund commits to give every Iraqi Armenian that will settle in Armenia $1000 , to cover their transportation expenses. But there are other problems. They are hard to integrate with local environment and besides, many do not speak Armenian and those who do speak a dialect of Western Armenian, which local Armenians cannot understand. Armenians began arriving in Iraq several centuries ago from Iran, first settling in the south of the country and gradually moving to the capital, Baghdad. The biggest wave came at the start of the 20th century when ethnic Armenians fled Turkey after a massacre by Turkish soldiers in the final years of the Ottoman Empire.

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