ADDIS ABABA – The government has airlifted 323 more Ethiopians from Beirut as efforts to repatriate its citizens from crisis-hit Lebanon continue, according to Ministry Foreign Affairs.
The returnees were welcomed by State Minister of Foreign Affairs Tsion Teklu, who is in charge of a committee that the government formed to lead the repatriation of Ethiopians from Lebanon.
The government started to airlift Ethiopian nationals, with the help of its aid partners, on Thursday. About 333 Ethiopians came home on Thursday.
“The Government has covered the costs of the trip in repatriating today’s arrivals too,” the ministry of foreign affairs said.
The government “would continue to identify its citizens who are living in unbearable conditions abroad and provide assistance to those who want to return home voluntarily”, 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 30, 2020