Following the recent Beirut explosion amid the economic meltdown since October last year coupled with the wearisome fight against Covid-19, some people especially Africans have been left stranded with little or no option but to return home.
Many foreign nationals, Kenyans included have found themselves living in the streets staging street protests in the various consulate buildings.
Expressing that working without pay was not an option, all they are looking forward to is assistance to returning to home.
“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 migrant worker from Kenya.
Zeina Ammar, Anti-Racism Movement communications manager stressed on the need to assist the workers with 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 ”
Following the port blast, migrant workers have assisted the Lebanese government with clean-ups in their streets. The government has 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.”
Dozens of women said they have been holding a sit-in outside since the 10th of August demanding repatriation home.
A 21-year-old recounted escaping abusive employers, only to be injured and see her home destroyed in this month’s explosion
The consulate confirmed plans were underway to fly those who seriously needed to go back home, contrary to comments made by demonstrators who complained of inaction on the part of the consulate.
Sadly, some employers are taking advantage of the crisis at hand to ill-treat their employees, dumping them without a penny for services rendered.
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, saying she was too ill to work.
“One would think after the humanitarian catastrophe that hit Lebanon with the Beirut Port explosion, some people would act and be humbler and kind to one another. But no,” wrote human rights organization, Rights or Riots, on Instagram.
Meanwhile, Kenya has no consulate in Beirut but just an honorary consul, not the equivalent of an ambassador or even consul general.
Liberty Pazvakawambwa SADCNews Correspondent