Filipino Workers Flock to Leave Crisis-Hit Lebanon


Hundreds of Filipinos, most of them female domestic workers, flocked to their embassy in Lebanon Thursday to sign up for free repatriation from the crisis-hit country.

The embassy issued a statement linking its offer of a free ticket home to Lebanon's free-falling economy.

"More than 1,000 Filipinos, mostly women with some children in tow, arrived in droves to the Philippine embassy in Beirut to register for free mass repatriation scheduled in February next year," a statement said.

An estimated quarter of a million domestic workers live in Lebanon, in conditions that have repeatedly been condemned by their countries of origin and rights group.

A sponsorship system known as "kafala" leaves maids, nannies and carers outside the remit of Lebanon's labor law, and at the mercy of their employers.

Cases of abuses are reported regularly, with workers often unable to obtain their rights or even flee because all their money and travel documents are held by their employers.

Hailing mostly from the Philippines, Ethiopia, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, some make as little as $150 a month.

The Lebanese pound's tumbling value on the black market in recent weeks has led many employers to pay their domestic workers in the local currency.

Others have been fired by employers who can no longer afford their services, leaving foreign workers stranded in Lebanon with no income.

The embassy statement said that some workers "have recently lost jobs and income opportunities during these trying times in Lebanon."

Mohanna Ishak, a lawyer with the KAFA NGO that assists domestic workers, said that the severe economic downturn risked leading to more abuses.

"The financial and psychological stress the Lebanese are under risks have repercussions on domestic workers," she said, adding that their salaries may go unpaid or they could face "more verbal and physical violence."

Lebanon has been rocked by seven weeks of an unprecedented protest movement demanding an end to corruption and the wholesale removal of the current political elite.

The campaign to abolish the "kafala" system has been widely supported by protesters.

Comments 5
Missing servant-of-jesus 05 December 2019, 23:20

You are an utterly disgusting racist.

Thumb gebran_sons 05 December 2019, 23:26

Thanks to Aoun and Hizbollah policies, bankrupt Lebanese will soon line up at foreign embassies to work as maid and laborers in their new country. Let us just hope they will receive little more respect as most foreign workers get in Lebanon.

Thumb gebran_sons 05 December 2019, 23:33

I like to say to every Filipino, Ethiopian, Sri Lankan and other domestic worker forced to leave Lebanon due to the Country's economic situation: Thank you very much for your service and helping us take care of our kids and homes. May you have a safe flight back to your country and hope you keep a positive memory of Lebanon.

Thumb whyaskwhy 06 December 2019, 01:57

These poor people that have to travel half way around the world to earn their living only to have the bad luck of being in Lebanon to serve many who have little if any regard for them. Very sad....

Missing phillipo 06 December 2019, 14:56

If they find the situation so bad, then why are the Embassy waiting until February to carry out the repatriation?