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Weekly News Report: March 1-7, 2021

Ethiopian workers evacuated on March 3. Photo from Ethiopian consulate

Articles and views shared in the Weekly News Report do not represent ARM’s views. Information in these articles has not been fact-checked by ARM and may contain some errors. ARM is simply compiling all news relevant to migrant communities to inform our advocacy efforts and to facilitate the work of organizations who cater to migrant communities.

Evacuation Updates

More Migrant Workers Evacuated [source is ARM]

23 migrant women and men were evacuated to Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Nigeria, Sudan and Cameroon in the past week with the support of ARM and This Is Lebanon.

More Ethiopian Workers Evacuated [here]

54 undocumented Ethiopian workers were evacuated in the past week with the support of an organziation that will also provide shelters upon arrival to Addis Ababa.

Misleading Figures on Evacuated Workers Spread Online

Report by Information International on Drop in Work Visas [here]

Information International published a report last week on the drop in number of new work visas issued for migrant workers in Lebanon by 83%. This figure was used widely in news headlines and reports (example here) was obtained from the General Security (GS) and was based on work permits they have granted to migrant workers. Hence the percentage refers to the drop of new work visas issued in 2020 (9780) compared to those in 2019 (57,957); and that is an 83% drop in the new migrant worker entries into Lebanon and not a drop in the number of migrant workers in the country all together. These numbers also do not account for undocumented workers.

Head of SORAL: 90% Drop in Number of Migrant Domestic Workers [here]

Upon reports on the drop in number of migrant workers and work visas, the head of the Syndicate of Recruitment Agencies in Lebanon (SORAL) stated that the number of migrant domestic workers coming to Lebanon since the start of this year has dropped by 90% compared to last year, citing the pre-approved visas granted by the ministry of labor (MoL).

The article also mentioned that the salary of Ethiopian workers amounted to 300USD, a number that seems to be exaggerated by the media and not based on research given the ongoing deterioration of living and working conditions of migrant workers.

More Figures Related to Migrant Workers [here]

An article by Nidaa Al Watan reported that the following figures related to migrant workers:

  • 274,000 documented and around 100,000 undocumented migrant workers were in Lebanon in 2019;

  • More than 100,000, both documented and undocumented, workers left Lebanon;

  • Up to 10,000 documented workers entered Lebanon in 2020;

  • Only 883 workers entered Lebanon in January 202 compared to 2844 in January 2020;

  • 2700 pre-approved work visas were issued by MoL in the first two months of this year, compared to an average of 8000 in previous years in a period of two months;

  • Half of this year’s 2700 pre-approvals are projected to be cancelled;

  • 70 complaints are currently being processed by the National Federation of Employees’ and Workers’ Union in Lebanon (FENASOL) against employers who abandoned domestic workers.

Updates on Vaccination Plan for Migrant Workers

Report on Barriers to Vaccination for Migrant Workers [here]

An article by Thomas Reuters Foundation reported the obstacles delaying a comprehensive plan to vaccinate migrant workers in Lebanon, including the requirement for a valid identification document and the low funding. The article reported the number of migrant workers, which is still a contested figure, is around 500,000. Another obstacle is the fear among the migrant population of being detained or deported for their undocmneted status.

Caretaker minister of labor Lamia Yammine told the Foundation that "The resources of the Lebanese state are limited even for Lebanese, so as a labour ministry we're going to try to get (funding) from various sources," adding that the ministry might request that employers pay as well in addition to consulates and embassies. 

Statement by the UN Network on Migration [here]

The United Nations Network on Migration issued a statement calling on states to include migrants in the vaccination drives regardless of their legal or residency status, to “base vaccine eligibility and prioritization on public health considerations without discrimination”; noting that only a quarter of national deployment and vaccination plans (NDVPs) around the world have so far included migrants.

Other

HRW report on New Law against Sexual Harassment [here]

Human Rights Watch (HRW) published a report on the shortcomings of the new law against sexual harassment passed by the Lebanese palriment in December 2020.

The report emphasized the lack of preventive measures as a main gap, while neglecting key aspects to be addressed such as reforms to the labor law in relation to harassment in the workplace. This is especially relevant to migrant domestic workers who are subjected to abuse and harassment in private in the employer's house, while being excluded from protection of the labor law.