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06 09 14 - Shooting for Peace: Armenian photogs reach out to Lebanonís children
www.armenianow.com (From A.M. USA)
By John Hughes ArmeniaNow reporter
A team of Armenian photojournalists, including ArmeniaNow’s Karen Mirzoyan, returned Thursday from 10 days in Lebanon to launch a project aimed at helping the war-stricken children of Beirut.


Led by veteran photojournalist Ruben Mangasaryan, the group also included German Avagyan and Anahit Hairapetyan, members of Mangasaryan’s Patker Photo Agency. The younger photojournalists (Mirzoyan and Hairapetyan were also students of Mangasaryan and Avagyan in a training program at Caucasus Media Institute in Yerevan.) The journalists left Yerevan August 19, and spent their time in Lebanon documenting the aftermath of war. They also shot in the Armenian village of Ainchar. According to Mangasaryan, cities and settlements where most Diaspora live are in the north of the country and were not dramatically impacted by the bombing and rocket attacks by Israeli military. (Still, some 1,000 Lebanese-Armenians fled to Armenia before the August 14 ceasfire.) Beirut, home to about 100,000 Armenian Diaspora, is incomparable to the city Mangasaryan saw on his last assignment there, in 2001. “Last time it was active, like a beehive,” Mangasaryan says. “Now, it is empty, because all the foreigners have left. The southern part of the city is in ruins – like Gyumri, after the earthquake.” Over the course of their mission, the quartet shot some 2,000 photos each. After final edits, the images will be exhibited in Yerevan, and will appear online. The ultimate goal of the project is to raise awareness of the suffering of Lebanon’s children and to raise funding for their aid. “Since Armenia has been in situations like this and has received help from other countries, now it is our duty to help others,” Mangasaryan says. “Financially, Armenia cannot provide serious assistance, but we can help by providing information.” The photojournalists were the only Armenian press who have reported from Lebanon since the fighting. Mangasaryan says Armenia itself is in a unique position to help Lebanon, owing to its close relations and to geo-political circumstance. “Armenia is one of the few countries that has good relations with both the Middle East and the West,” Mangasaryan says. “The United States is in bad relations with Lebanon (because of its support of Israel). Jewish communities are surely not going to help. This is a good chance for Armenia to have a valuable role in the region.” The photojournalists went own their own initiative. They received financial support from K-Telecom CJSC (VivaCell), and were assisted by the Armenian Embassy in Lebanon. In South Lebanon, the team was hosted and assisted by NBN TV correspondent Ali Diab. Much of the expense was absorbed by the photo agency. Those wishing to contribute to the further activities of the project, may do so via www.patkerphoto.com. The team almost became stranded in Lebanon. After one flight back to Yerevan was cancelled, the next was overbooked. They were told no seats were available until October. Upon learning of the situation, Armavia Airlines sent a larger aircraft than was normally scheduled, to accommodate the photojournalists and others. Click here, for an extensive gallery of images from Lebanon. And here, for Karen Mirzoyan's black and white photos.

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