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Beirut: Foreign workers demand to return home

Foreigners protest in Beirut   -  
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AFP

Lebanon

Following the blast in Beirut, thousands of foreigners mostly Africans working in Lebanon demand to be brought home and have been staging protests outside the consulate buildings.

Covid-19 and the Beirut explosion have worsened the devastating economic crisis that struck Lebanon last October.

Foreigners, including Kenyans, have found themselves living in the streets.

"Now in Lebanon, no money, no work. About this crisis… everyone knows, not only us. So we cannot work without pay. That’s why we are here since Monday, almost two weeks. We just need help to go back home...." said Emily, a homeless migrant worker from Kenya.

00:46SOT Zeina Ammar, Anti-Racism Movement communications manager (English):

Zeina Ammar, Anti-Racism Movement communications manager stressed on the need to get the workers travel documents.

"We call on all the governments of their home countries to really take decisive action to fund this evacuation because it saves lives, and not only fund the evacuation but also to provide a laissez-passer to all undocumented workers "

- 'Systematically dehumanised' -

After the port blast, Lebanese shared videos online celebrating the courage of migrant workers helping with clean-up efforts in the streets, as well as footage of a housekeeper on August 4 diving to rescue a toddler from an imploding window.

But ARM says not enough attention is being given to the migrants who fell victim to the blast.

"The official tally of the deceased and the missing remains incomplete, excluding primarily people of non-Lebanese origin," ARM said.

"Migrant workers and refugees are systematically dehumanised and marginalised in Lebanon, in life as in death."

Outside the Kenyan consulate, dozens of women said they had been holding a sit-in since August 10 to demand their repatriation.

Among them, a 21-year-old recounted escaping abusive employers, only to be injured and see her home destroyed in this month's explosion.

The consulate said efforts were underway to fly those who wished back home, but demonstrators complained of inaction.

Another woman said her employers had dumped her at the consulate just days after the blast without a passport or the salary she was owed, accusing her of being too ill to work.

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