Gyumri plunging into deeper poverty due to failure to eliminate disaster risks – NGO president

13:40 • 07.12.17



Twenty-nine years after the devastating earthquake, an estimated 2,300 families in Gyumri are still without home, most living in vans or in hostels under inhuman conditions.


“Half of those 2,300 families found themselves in those circumstances in the direct aftermath of the earthquake; the rest were indirectly affected. Either [families] split, or came from other communities; some sold their apartments and remained homeless,” Vahan Tumasyan, the president of the local NGO Shirak Center, told Tert.am.

 

The devastating 6.8 magnitude earthquake hit Armenia's north-west on December 7, 1988, leveling hundreds and thousands of residential homes in Gyumri, Spitak, and other cities, towns and villages. The estimated death toll was 2,500.  


Tumasyan says his every single meeting with survivors gives an impression as though time has stopped in Gyumri over the past 29 years after the disaster.  

 

“We haven't been able to do the most important thing, i.e. - eliminate the consequences of the earthquake, and that gave rise to numerous other problems, increasing poverty and forcing many to live in a complete isolation in vans. Those communities attracted the impoverished like magnet, as many later came also from other towns and villages to live in those places for rent. It’s as though the entire poverty-stricken class is gathering in Gyumri, with the local businessmen emigrating from here. So no wonder at all that we now have the highest poverty rate in Gyumri,” Tumasyan added.  

 

In his words, the announced government programs have been insignificant so far, with most of the promises being intended only for attracting the public and "making headlines in the media".

 

 

Liana Arakelyan





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