The following letter was sent to the Foreign Affairs Minister, Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Chairman of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, Director General of National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Diaspora Affairs to urge the Nigerian government to fund the evacuation of more women stuck in Lebanon. We urge you to circulate it and demand the same from the Nigerian government.
There are around 5,000 Nigerians in Lebanon who require your immediate attention and intervention.
We are aware of the Nigerian government’s relentless efforts to secure the return of stranded Nigerians from around the world. However, in Lebanon, Nigerian nationals are not stranded due to COVID-19 alone. They are facing the consequences of a racist and exploitative sponsorship system, a major financial crisis, a mass uprising, a global pandemic, successive government resignations, as well as one of the largest non-nuclear explosions in the world.
As a result, most Nigerians here are unemployed or working without wages due to their employers’ alleged inability to pay. Since May 2020, the Anti-Racism Movement has received around 200 calls from Nigerian nationals requesting help to access food, pay rent and go home. They are living in overcrowded apartments, subjected to illegal evictions, and struggling to buy food and basic necessities. Community members also reported that women are increasingly engaging in sex work to cover their expenses. Families in Nigeria are selling their land to relieve their daughters from hunger. With their savings diminishing fast, they are simply unable to pay for their return.
The Nigerian government needs to organise an emergency appeal and allocate a sizable budget to fully fund the return of its citizens from Lebanon without delay.
While the Nigerian embassy in Beirut has spared no effort to facilitate their return at no cost, the embassy informed us that free evacuations may no longer be possible due to the insufficiency of available funds.
This effectively means that Nigerians will be trapped in Lebanon with their living conditions worsening every day. Your urgent intervention is needed to save their lives.
We call upon the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, and the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons to:
● Join their efforts to ensure that the urgency of this situation is properly communicated to the Federal Government and relevant States, namely Ondo, Oyo and Lagos;
● Actively lobby the Federal Government to allocate some of its emergency funds to the evacuation of Nigerians from Lebanon;
● Increase the human and financial resources of the Nigerian embassy in Beirut to enable it to meet the high demand on its services;
● In case the Government cannot cover the cost for all those who wish to return from Lebanon, we call on you to organise an emergency funding appeal in coordination with the International Organisation for Migration to complement the funds allocated by the Federal Government.
We stand ready to answer your questions and support your efforts to make this possible.
The Nigerian Community in Lebanon
The Anti-Racism Movement
To follow up on this appeal, kindly contact:
● Roland Aigbovbiosa | President of the Nigerian Community in Lebanon | firstname.lastname@example.org | +96170684502
● Zeina Ammar | Advocacy Manager at Anti-Racism Movement | email@example.com | +96171126772
Illustration by Tamara Nasr