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Emigration and lack of work ‘a national disaster’ in Armenia

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Summary of story from BBCNews, August 10, 2011

Poverty and unemployment are forcing men in Armenia to go and work in Russia, leaving villages almost entirely populated by women.

Milena Kazaryan, who is in her 20s and has two children, says all the men in her family – her husband, father, grandfather and brothers – have left.

She says she and her friends worry that their husbands will start second families in Russia, as many have already.

Women are also taking on heavy work once seen as men’s work, there is no one for the local girls to marry, and the birth rate is low.

Ilona Ter-Minasyan, head of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Armenia’s capital Yerevan, said women also now make the decisions which eventually leads to shifted gender roles because “while he’s out for eight or nine months, she’s head of the household’.

And in a worst-case scenario, she adds, men come back from Russia HIV-positive and transfer the disease to their wives.

Human rights groups are accusing the Armenian government of not doing enough to address emigration, and calling it a national disaster.

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