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It Has Become More Dire for African Migrants to Leave Lebanon

For many migrant workers in Beirut, the destruction of Tuesday’s blast added one more reason to quit the country. One Ethiopian has died so far following the explosion and nine others injured including “one woman who is in intensive care fighting for her life,” Ethiopia’s Consul General Temesgen Omer told CNN. The vast majority of the migrant domestic workers with work permits are females from Ethiopia, Amnesty said in a report citing 2018 figures. Accurate figures for all workers are hard to come by as some of the domestic workers, who are mostly women, are trafficked or brought into the country illegally. Many have been abused under the controversial kefala system, a form of indentured servitude that ties the woman’s immigration/residency status to a live-in work contract. The treatment of domestic workers in Lebanon had already come under intense scrutiny in recent months. Last week, CNN reported multiple allegations of abuse by the top two officials at the Kenyan consulate in Beirut. Recently, a video surfaced online featuring a group of Nigerian women, in a room, making a direct appeal to the camera, and pleading with their government to rescue them.