Valley connection to crisis in Syria

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Civil war in Syria has forced millions people to flee the country. The populations of neighboring countries like Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan have surged with the massive movement of refugees. But the mass exodus has also hit home here in the Valley.

Highways of humanity can be found in many countries outside of Syria as families escape for a chance for a better life. But many people especially children find themselves in refugee camps. Clearly the welcome mat has not been laid out in many places. Millions of people are on the move because of the war, because of persecution and because of poverty.

Berj Apkarian said, "It is heart-breaking situation. It reflects a terrible picture as far as the civilized world."

Berj Apkarian is the Honorary Consul of the Republic of Armenia in Fresno. His 81-year-old mother Zvart and his 53-year-old sister Taline are U.S. citizens stuck in Alleppo, Syria.

Apkarian explained, "My mom and sister are trapped in the Christian zone in the Armenian zone which is protected by the government. But the surrounding is all in the hands of the rebels and the ISIS and the extremists. They fear of their lives on a daily basis."

We met Apkarian outside the Armenian Genocide Monument on the Fresno State campus. His mother and sister can only hope for a break in the Syrian violence so they can eventually return to the U.S.

"They have decided to stay put because they fear their safety," said Apkarian. "It's not easy. Two ladies in men's world and in the chaos of the situation that exists for them to take that chance and hit the road."

Many refugees are trying to work their way through Turkey and Greece and into European countries such as Germany.

Millions more have been leaving Iraq because of the rise of ISIS. Thursday, President Obama announced the U.S. would accept more than 10,000 Syrian refugees in the coming year.
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