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Hundreds of domestic workers flown home, thousands still awaiting assistance


The Daily Star on Sunday published a feature on the fate of migrant women domestic workers in Lebanon, citing human rights activists as saying hundreds of MWDWs have been deported with the help of civil society organizations, leaving behind thousands stranded in the country. According to founder of the Egna Legna Besidet workers’ rights group, Banchi Yimer, priority has been given to women with children or medical conditions or have lost their jobs and housing. The money raised has mostly been used for food, shelter and medication, with a small part left to help stranded MWDWs fly back home, mainly to Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast and Nigeria. Yimer disclosed that the number of foreign workers in Lebanon (250,000 according to official statistics) is not accurate, pointing to Ethiopians who make up more than 400,000 of the migrant community. Everybody wants to go home, but lack the resources, she said. For her part, Farah Baba, of the Anti-Racism Movement, said the governments of Nigeria and Ghana have intensified trips to evacuate their nationals but the hitch is that some travel agencies are asking workers to pay their tickets in US dollars, while the majority of them are currently being paid in the devalued Lebanese pound, which delayed their return. The International Organization for Migration has also helped in the repatriation of 2,500 workers after the August 4 Beirut Port blast, Baba said. (The Daily Star, December 19, 2020)

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