Filipino workers flock to leave crisis-hit Lebanon

BEIRUT (AFP) – Hundreds of Filipinos, most of them female domestic workers, flocked to their embassy in Lebanon yesterday to sign up for free repatriation from the crisis-hit country.

The embassy issued a statement linking its offer of a free ticket home to Lebanon’s free-falling economy.

“More than 1,000 Filipinos, mostly women with some children in tow, arrived in droves to the Philippine embassy in Beirut to register for free mass repatriation scheduled in February next year,” a statement said.

An estimated quarter of a million domestic workers live in Lebanon, in conditions that have repeatedly been condemned by their countries of origin and rights group.

A sponsorship system known as kafala leaves maids, nannies and carers outside the remit of Lebanon’s labour law, and at the mercy of their employers.

Cases of abuses are reported regularly, with workers often unable to obtain their rights or even flee because all their money and travel documents are held by their employers.

Hailing mostly from the Philipines, Ethiopia, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, some make as little as USD150 a month.