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Immigrant workers left on the streets in Lebanon

As chaos erupts around the world humans are showing their cruelest side. From the injustice happening in the united states to the famine that is killing Yemen, people from all around the world are suffering greatly. Roots of discrimination and injustice are bearing their ugly teeth to the innocent and most vulnerable in almost every country around the globe. Thus, Lebanon is no different or perhaps this third world country is even worse. In Lebanon, as the economic crisis worsens, employers are leaving their immigrant workers homeless and on the streets.

Most marginalized population in Lebanese society

Even before the economy’s collapse, black migrant workers were often discriminated against in Lebanese society. The sponsorship law known as the kafala law restricts their rights and makes them very vulnerable to all kinds of abuse. This phenomenon of course increased as COVID-19 forced people to stay under lockdown. Many are suffering under the verbal and physical abuse of their employer.

Moreover, since the virus disrupted many of the citizen’s jobs, many Lebanese employers no longer paid their immigrant employees. However, when they do pay them, they do it using the Lebanese pound. A currency that has lost 60 percent of its worth against the US dollar since last summer.

Abandoned and homeless

Since the start of the lockdown and the nationwide economic crisis, many Lebanese employers who no longer could afford their domestic workers’ salary or even a ticket to take them home. Thus, they inhumanly solved this problem by leaving them stranded on the streets. They either drove them there themselves or brought them a cab to take them away with no real destination. 

Moreover,  these actions directly violate the unified standard contract. A contract specifically designed to protect domestic workers’ labor rights in the region. These cruel actions left them even more vulnerable to getting inflicted by the lethal virus.

Stranded and undocumented workers

Statistics estimate a total of  250,000 migrant domestic workers living in Lebanon. However, the real accurate numbers are still not known. they are hard to calculate since many workers are employed without proper documentation. They are either lured into the country with fake promises or trafficked. Therefore, when they have trouble with their employers, embassies aren’t able to provide them with much help.

Furthermore, since the kafala law allows employers to confiscate their employees’ passport, many workers don’t have the needed documents such as passports and ids. Thus, even if they somehow have the money needed to get back home, they don’t have the means for traveling.

Moreover, the Ethiopian Consulate refused to comment on whether they are providing cash assistance or accommodation and other support for the undocumented workers. Both documented and undocumented worker need this cash and kind of support to fly back to their homeland

Accountability needed

Many countries such as Ethiopia and the Philippines have organized repatriations for migrant workers with untenable jobs in Lebanon.  On the other hand, the nationwide and international lockdown over the coronavirus pandemic has hindered the repatriation efforts. 

Despite that, more than 7,000 Bangladeshi migrant workers have successfully applied for repatriation to go back to their homeland. Moreover, the Philippines and Ethiopian embassies have managed to each respectively repatriated hundreds of their people. 

Lebanon is not only suffering from the coronavirus or the economic failure, but also the inhuman actions of its citizens. No matter the reasons such actions governments, as well as human rights activists, should never tolerate this kind of behavior. Moreover, employers who committed this crime should be held accountable in the eyes of the law as soon as possible.

References:

Azhari, T. (2020, June 04). Lebanon provides shelter for abandoned migrants as crisis deepens. Retrieved June 28, 2020, from https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/06/lebanon-shelter-abandoned-migrants-crisis-deepens-200604132823475.html

Lebanon: Abandoned migrant domestic workers. (n.d.). Retrieved June 28, 2020, from https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2020/06/lebanon-abandoned-migrant-domestic-workers-must-be-protected/

Rose, S. (2020, June 19). Ethiopian domestic workers abandoned on Beirut street by employers. Retrieved June 28, 2020, from https://www.thenational.ae/world/mena/ethiopian-domestic-workers-abandoned-on-beirut-street-by-employers-1.1029708

Thousands of women trapped in Lebanon. They risk jail time to leave. (n.d.). Retrieved June 28, 2020, from https://edition.cnn.com/interactive/2020/02/world/lebanon-domestic-workers-cnnphotos/index.html

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