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Weekly News Report: March 29-April 4, 2021

Bangladeshi workers evacuated on April 4. Photo from The Daily Star

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]

Twenty six migrant workers were evacuated to Bangladesh, Ghana and Togo in the past week with the support of ARM.

More Bangladeshi Migrants Evacuated [here]

Around 272 undocumented Bangladeshi migrants were evacuated on April 4 and are currently quarantining in a government-sponsored facility. Quarantine cost is covered by the government.

Over 4,600 of the registered workers have been repatriated in special flights starting from February 15. in addition to another 10,000 Bangladeshis who wish to return home.

Lebanon remains one of the many countries from which trips are banned in Bangladesh, which makes these evacuation trips an exception by the government due to the deteriorating conditions in Lebanon.

Egna Legna Supports over 40 Evacuations in a Month, including Court Cases [here]

Egna legna Besidet announced that they have supported 47 Ethiopoan women with evacuation between February 21 and March 29, of which 17 were facing legal charges that had delayed their travel.

Report on Impact of Evacuation on Lebanon’s Job Market [here]

An article by United Press International reported the changes in Lebanon’s job market after the evacuation of migrant workers over the past year. The changes include closure of recruitment agencies, increased demand for Lebanese workers in industrial sectors to replace migrants who left, and Lebanese women “filling the gaps” as freelance domestic workers.

ILO gave the following numbers to the reporter: 152,289 regular migrant workers are still working in Lebanon. Women from Ethiopia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Ghana and Kenya, topped the list with 119,081. ILO's figures do not include the number of illegal workers, estimated by “unconfirmed report” to be around 80,000.

IOM Report on Global Evacuation of Migrants [here]

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) published a report addressing the status of migrants around the world in the context of the pandemic. It reported that in September 2020 alone, there were around 3 million migrants stranded around the world that were detailed.

In Lebanon, 70% of migrant workers surveyed by the Displacement Tracking Matrix had plans to go back to their countries. Akong those cases was a domestic worker who attempted jumping from a balcony due to abuse by her employers, and another woman that was subjected to human trafficking.

Updates on Vaccination Plan for Migrant Workers

Minister of Public Health Initiates First Vaccination Drive of Sputnik Vaccine [here]

At the first vaccination drive of the Sputnik vaccine impoirted for the private sector, caretaker minister of public health Dr. Hamad Hassan announced that the ministry had reserved 7 million doses to cover 60% of Lebanon’s population and 20% of residents who fall under the targeted age groups.

Dr. Hassan emphasized the inclusion of everyone present in Lebanon in the vaccination drives and campaigns regardless of nationality.

HRW Statement on Exclusion of Migrants and Refugees from Vaccination [here]

Human Rights Watch (HRW) issued a statement on the ongoing exclusion of migrant workers and refugees from the vaccination plans despite previous contradictory announcements and statements by government officials.

The statement emphasized the following points:

  • Lack of reliable and accessible information to these groups about the vaccine and the registration process;

  • Alarming rates of COVID-19 deaths and of vaccination among refugee populations compared to Lebanese citizens;

  • Low number of vaccines to be purchased (7 million) which would suffice only for half the population;

  • Low number of vaccinated Syrians and Palesitnians compared to number of those eligible in the first phase of the national vaccination plan;

  • Fear of arrest and deportation of undocumented migrants and refugees;

  • Mistrust in the government and in actually receiving the vaccine;

  • Concern about vaccine distribution in the private sector based on political affiliation.

Other

More Online Posts Selling Migrant Workers [here]

At least 4 posts were put up on Facebook trading groups offering to sell and buy migrant domestic workers they employ for 2000 USD in cash.

Study on Suicide Includes Alarming Numbers of Non-Lebanese Cases [here]

A study on suicide in Lebanon between 2008 and 2018 found that among the 1,366 reported suicides, 13.4% were Ethiopian migrant workers, 10.9% were Syrians, and 2% were Palestinians.

Report on Lebanon’s Judicial System and Migrant Domestic Workers [here]

Legal Agenda published a report in collaboration with the International Labor Organization (ILO) on the verdicts of the legal cases concerning migrant domestic workers, in an effort to give recommendations for structural and judicial reforms that would improve migrant workers’ conditions.

The report is available in English and Arabic.

Report on Abandoned Ethiopian Workers Back in Ethiopia [here]

An article by Le Monde reported the reintegration efforts of community organizations for Ethiopian domestic workers who went back home from Lebanon after being abandoned by employers last year. This includes vocational training, temporary housing upon return, as well as psychological support and comprehensive treatment plans for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

In addition, the article reported the growing challenge of the women’s family rejecting them when they return without their due salaries, and the work of the organizations to raise awareness on the different factors leading to unpaid wages in Lebanon.

Judge Orders Investigation into Accusations of Torture Against Syrians [here]

State Prosecutor Judge Ghassan Oueidat issued a statement requesting an investigation by the government’s commissioner to the military court into the accusations of torture of Syrian refugees which were made by Amnesty International’s report.

Updates on Refoulement of Syrian Refugees from Lebanon [here] and [here]

Caretaker prime minister Hassan Diab attended the 5th Brussels conference on “Supporting the future of Syria and the Region” where he addressed the international community to request assistance in facilitating voluntary return as part of the Lebanese government’s plan. 

Diab and caretaker minister of defense Zeina Akar described hosting Syrian refugees as a burden to the economy, adding that their stay os “temporary and should not be construed under any circumstances as a local integration.”