ADDIS ABABA – At least 333 Ethiopians have been repatriated from crisis-hit Lebanon, Minister of Foreign Affair said on Thursday. Other 320 Ethiopians are expected to come later this week.
Stranded in Lebanon, many Ethiopian domestic workers are asking for help to return back home, according to reports from Beruit.
Some Lebanese families have started paying them in the depreciating local currency, while others chose not to pay them at all. They are, therefore, being thrown into the street with nowhere to go.
Following the report, the ministry has set up an 11-member committee led by deputy foreign minister Tsion Teklu to identify and repatriate the most vulnerable ones.
The country, with the help of UN agencies and other partners, has now started repatriating its citizens Beirut today.
“After concluding all the preparations, we have started to bring them back home (today) on May 28,” the ministry said following the arrival of 333 Ethiopians at Addis Ababa Airport on Thursday.
“320 others will arrive at Addis Ababa airport on Saturday,” it added.
An estimated 250,000 domestic workers live in Lebanon, the large majority Ethiopian, – many in conditions condemned by rights groups.
A sponsorship system is known as “kafala” excludes maids, nannies, and carers from Lebanon’s labor law, and leaves them at the mercy of their employers, who pay wages as low as $150 a month.
With staff obtained at high fees from recruitment agencies even before being paid wages, and unhappy workers unable to resign without their employer’s permission, some have likened the system to slavery.
Image: The Ethiopians arriving at Addis Ababa airport on May 20, 2020