The phenomena of migrant work and emigration have a history of many centuries among the Armenians of Daron, Ottoman Armenia (the collective name for the Armenian Highlands within the borders of the Ottoman Empire, as well as the adjacent Armenian-populated areas of Lesser Hayk and Cilicia), and other regions. However, the rates of emigration accelerated rapidly after the 1877-1878 Russo-Turkish War. This was a result of the intense persecution experienced by Armenians at the hands of both the Ottoman authorities and local Kurdish tribes – massacres, both legal and extrajudicial taxation, land grabs and plunder –,  as well as the deepening socio-economic crisis in the region caused by under-development, which resulted in widespread loss of land ownership and a fall in the profitability of livestock farming. In 1875, Raffi, the prominent Armenian author and orator, described the phenomenon of Armenian emigration thus – “The chief cause behind emigration is the living conditions of Armenians in Ottoman Armenia. Every year, thousands of youth leave Van, Moush, Bitlis, Erzurum, and other provinces, heading for Istanbul, to earn a living for their families. This flow of migrants increases proportionally to the worsening of living conditions for the people in their native lands”.

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