Weekly News Report: August 25-31
سبتمبر 16, 2022
Articles and views shared in the Weekly News Report do not necessarily 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 that cater to migrant communities.
Al Akhbar released 3 articles on August 29, 2022 as part of a dossier titled “Domestic Labor «Crisis»: Left, Never to Return,” in which it falsely claimed that the social and economic ramifications behind the closure of recruitment agencies in the last 3 years, alongside employers being “forced” to abandon migrant domestic workers as well as their repatriation, is causing a so-called “Domestic Labor «Crisis»,” completely omitting how recruitment agencies structurally abuse migrant domestic workers, as well as the racism and sexism that the workers face.
Two of the articles tackle the social and economic conditions of domestic workers in Lebanon, one article tackles the conditions of “local” domestic workers, in reference to Lebanese, Syrian or Palestinian domestic workers, while the other article interviewed 2 migrant workers, one who left with a Lebanese family to the UAE, while the other stayed in Lebanon.
The main article, under the same title as the dossier, contained misinformation about the wages of domestic workers, like how most Lebanese families are unable to pay the monthly salary, estimated around $200, of a migrant domestic worker, as it “often exceeds the household’s income.” This argument ignores the reports of families who deny migrant domestic workers access to their salaries, before and during the current economic crisis. Furthermore, the argument fails to tackle the implied justification of slavery behind the practice of hiring a migrant domestic worker and not paying her salary.
Another highlight from the article is an attached table from the Ministry of Labor showcasing a drop in numbers of “recruitment requests” between 2018 and the 16th of August, 2022, as well as a similar drop of first-time work visas, from 76,570 in 2018 to 8,720 and 16th of August, 2022.
Lastly, the article tackles the so-called “difficulties” facing a Lebanese family, after Mawla, a migrant domestic worker who worked for the family and left Lebanon. The mother in the family, Ezza, said that Mawla’s absence from the house “created a chaos that has been draining me.” She absurdly described her experience with domestic tasks as “an opportunity to rediscover the details of my house and enjoy organizing my son’s closet,” which, according to the article, was “the only benefit from Mawla’s absence.”
It’s worth noting that the dossier focused heavily on the situation of migrant domestic workers from the perspectives of employers, recruitment agencies, and governmental and non-governmental bodies that benefit from sustaining the exploitation of migrants.
Additionally, domestic work was barely recognized as work in the dossier, nor the sexist views towards domestic duties, which completely disregards the reality of migrant domestic workers who have been filling the gap in the infrastructure for years at the expense of their rights and wellbeing.
PM Najib Mikati headed a meeting with the ministers’ committee on “following up with the repatriation of Syrian migrants.” The meeting concluded with a confidential list of tasks and action points, as well as vague and inflammatory statements.
Hector Hajjar, Minister of Social Affairs did not reveal this list, claiming that the committee “works secretly,” and that they never revealed any points in previous meetings.
Additionally, the minister stated that the goal is to achieve a safe return to Syrian migrants, or to resettle those who “cannot go to Syria.” These statements raise questions about the plan’s legitimacy and the aforementioned “confidentiality,” especially considering that the minister stated that he would proceed with the plan regardless of the UNHCR’s position.
On the other hand, Minister of the Displaced, Issam Charafeddine, stated that there is “nothing standing in the way between Lebanon and Syria towards a safe and dignified deportation of Syrian migrants.” “It was agreed that 9000 Syrian political refugees will be deported this year, 5000 thousand already left, and 4000 are planned to leave by the end of the year,” he added.
Charafeddine did not provide further information as to what “political refugees” entails or what “left” means, however, it’s important to note the shift in language, from using the term “repatriation” to bluntly using “deportation,” which shows the government’s true intentions.
BBC Reports on Racism in the Arab World [here]
Arab Barometer published their inaugural survey findings about racism in Arabic-speaking countries in collaboration with BBC Arabic, as part of its coverage on racism in the Arab world.
According to the survey, around 37%-67% of Arabs in Morocco, Libya, Lebanon, Sudan, Jordan, Iraq and Palestine believe that racial discrimination is “a problem.” The percentage for Tunisia, however, is 80%, which is reportedly the highest in the region.
As for Egypt, only 8% of participants reported that racial discrimination is a problem. Additionally, 86% believe that there is “no racial discrimination against dark-skin individuals at all,” and 82% believe that there is “no racial discrimination against black-skin individuals at all.”
The report also shared some interesting findings, for example, more than 50% of participants from Jordan, Tunisia, Mauritania, Morocco, Sudan, Iraq and Palestine would like to see more black individuals represented on TV, whereas half of the participants from Lebanon and Egypt agree with the previous statement, and the other half “does not care.”