The Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) was founded in Cairo in 1906. Its aim was to provide help and support for the rural Armenian populations in Eastern provinces of the Ottoman Empire.

These humanitarian activities, however, took a turning point in 1909, during the massacres in Adana, with the AGBU providing assistance to Armenian refugees from Cilicia who had fled to Dörtyol,in the Sanjak of Alexandretta.

These events mark the true launch of the Union’s activities in the Ottoman Empire, which saw the founding of numerous schools and local branches throughout the empire in the years that preceded the Great War.

At the end of the war the AGBU contributed intensively to the rescue of Armenian survivors of the genocide in Palestine, Jordan, Syria and Mesopotamia, founding numerous orphanages, shelters, dispensaries and schools across the Middle East, but also in Cilicia until the French army’s final evacuation of this former Ottoman province, and handover to Turkish nationalist forces, in 1921.

Until the early 1930s, the AGBU worked towards the recreation of a national home in Soviet Armenia, before refocusing its action onto Lebanon and Syria, then under French mandate, and other Mediterranean countries like Greece, Cyprus, Egypt, etc.

The AGBU, currently based in New York, remains one of the leading organizations in the Armenian diaspora.

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