A Call To Rescue Armenia -ld19170929

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Published by Funk & Wagnalls Company (Adam W. Wagnals, Press.; Wilfred J. Funk, Vice-Pres.; Robert J. Cuddiby, Treas.; William Neisel, Sec'y), 354-360 Forth Ave., New York

The Literary Digest for September 29, 1917

OVER TWO MILLION wretched victims of war are reported actually destitute and in need of daily food in western Asia. Of this number four hundred thousand are orphans. This is the body of people that the American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief is undertaking to succor by raising a fund the amount of which, measured by the need, months into many millions. The help is to go mainly to the Armenian nation, already depleted by massacre, famine, and deportation, and now washed up on alien shores after surging through desert lands where only in hospitality and death met them on every hand. In another part of this issue is the story of an Armenian lad, the only male survivor of the people of his native place; his narrative could be matched by those of hundreds of others from Asia Minor, Syria, Persia, and the Caucasus. Up to September of this year, the Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief has disbursed $4, 255,420.60. This amount is declared to be about $4,000 in excess of its received gifts, the sum accruing as interest on daily book balance held against drafts sent abroad. None of the funds received have been used for expenses, as the cost of maintaining the work of the committee has been met from a private voluntary source. In various organs of the religious press where the work of this committee is reported, we gathering the situation to be met in the future, that ---

"The cost of sustaining life varies in different areas from three dollars to sixteen dollars, averaging throughout the entire field not less than five dollars per person per month. Many of these people are now living on the charity of their Moslem neighbors, whose scanty food-supplies are nearly exhausted. The committee is convinced that to prevent wide-spread death by starvation during the coming six months of winter, at least $30,000,000 is needed. In addition to this, for repatriation and rehabilitation, an additional $15,000,000 should be planned for, of which $3,500,000 are needed at once in the Caucasus and Persia."

Staggering as is this burden, in view of other demands due to the war, it is declared that only America can meet it. From cable dispatches received by the committee and from a few workers returning from these fields we get such bits of information as these, the first coming from Costantinople:

"Estimate number of deported destitute Armenians, Syrians, and Greeks, now in Asia Minor, Syria, and Palestine, at one and one-half millions. Demands for help are inexorable. Bread-winners generally have perished through massacre, deportation, or in army. Practically all now destitute were self-supporting before war.

"Property taken from these people by military or destroyed in deportations totals millions of dollars. The number of destitute is increased by the deportation of Greeks from the sea-coast. Refugees from regions occupied by military are increasing the poverty. Business paralyzed. Animals requisitioned. Schools and churches generally closed. Buildings used by military. Prices of food and other necessaries of life increased several hundred fold, going higher. Needs greater, because needy people are more numerous than last year.

"Extermination or material diminution of Christian races greatly deplored, as the hope of future up building lies with this progressive element, which is most useful for regenerating the empire. American and Swiss missionaries remain on the field for continuing the work for destitute as in the past. They are now imploring that we continue usual appropriations."

From F. Willoughby Smith, United States Consul at Tiflis, in the Russian Caucasus, comes this cable message:

"Estimates place the number of Armenian and Syrian refugees in Caucasus at 250,000,000, Eastern Turkey, 100,000. Total slowly increasing by newcomers. Two hundred and fifty thousand of these without employment. Large proportion women and children. Minimum estimate necessary for individual, three dollars per month. In order to meet needs of situation, minimum estimate, $500,000 per month. Condition reported in previous telegrams now more acute. Strongly urge need of support for gatherless children in their homes, 5,000 now on our lists, about 15,000 others require immediate help, widows as well as children; thus aided, families are intact; no funds available at present for this department. Weaving of clothing material for refugees now going on in Alexandropol, Erivan, and Etchmiadzin. Starting orphanage for 300 boys in Erivan, boys over ten being selected, good intelligence and sound physique with reference to quick training of leaders in industry, agriculture, and education. Will open girls' orphanage if women supervisors sent out. Other industrial work to be opened in Gamarloo, Novoobayazid, Ashdarag, and other centers. Medical relief department in Erivan now caring for many old and sick and new-born babies. Need great in other centers. Repatriation postponed on account of local conditions. Send new workers at once as follows: One doctor and nurses; two ladies for orphanage; Harry White for agriculture; one man well trained for leader of technical industrial work; three or four general workers. We urge that not less than the following sums be sent immediately for the departments indicated. Repatriation, $1,000,000; fatherless children in homes, $500,000; industrial relief, $500,000; animals, $150,000; orphanages, $100,000; medical relief, $100,000; seed,$100,000; tools and implements, $100,000; individual, $550,000; total, $3,100,000. If possible arrangements should be made to send out machines, looms, and engines, for weaving wool would greatly help to meet needs of coming winter and be of permanent value in establishing industry beneficial to the refugees and this country."

The fate of the Armenians on many sections may be imagined from the following account of those in one section rendered by Dr. George E. White, present of Anatolia Collge in Marsiva, Turkey:

"Marsivan contained a population of 30,000, of whom, as the Governor had told me, a majority were Armenians. The situation for the Armenians did not become excessively acute until the spring of 1915, when the Turks determined to elinating the Armenians on the ground of searching for deserting soldiers, concealed bombs or weapons, seditions literature or revolutionists. The Turkish officers arrested about 1,200 Armenian men and accompanied their investigations with horrible brutalities. Several were sent to Malatia and executed, although there was no revolutionary activity in our city jail or the Barracks Building and then were sent out in lots of 100 to 200 in the night 'deportations' to be placed among the mountains where trenches had been prepared before the men were sent from the city. Peasants who were employed to do what was done said it was a pity to waste bullets and they used axes. These 1,200 Armenian men met their fate.

"The Turks turned on the women and children, the old men and little boys. Every night scores of ox-carts were gathered at the barracks Building and in the early dawn as they passed one side ot another of the American premises, the squeaking of their wheels left memories that make the blood curdle even now. As they passed on their way to another quarter of the city which had been decided for 'deportation' on that day, thousands of women and children were swept away. Where? Nowhere. No honorable destination was stated or intended. Why? Simply because they were Armenians and Christians."

From Syria the news is no more encouraging. Missionaries arriving in New York from Beirut confirm all previous reports. Deaths in one section of Syria from starvation and resultant diseases reached the rate of one thousand per day. There are at least fifty thousand orphans in Lebanon alone.

One of the thousand bands of deported Armenians sent out on an aimless journey through the trackless desert.

The desert of Asia Minor are strewn with heaps bones cleaned by the wild beasts along the routes of the hopeless Armenian caravans.

Whose extraordinary and heartrending tale will appear in our department of "Personal Glimpses" next week.

A hard copy of this article or hundreds of others from the time of the Armenian Genocide can be found in The Armenian Genocide: News Accounts From The American Press: 1915-1922