84 Kenyan domestic workers repatriated from Lebanon over mistreatment
Eighty-four Kenyan migrants have returned home between January and March 2022 through The International Organization for Migration (IOM).
IOM-Lebanon has been registering Kenyan migrants for Voluntary Humanitarian Return (VHR) following requests by migrant sector partners and Kenyan community members coordinating with Kenyan authorities in Beirut, Nairobi, and Kuwait.
In a statement released on Monday, IOM says their return follows a sit-in protest by approximately 50 migrants outside the Kenyan consulate in early January 2022, demanding assistance to leave Lebanon due to impossible living conditions.
"IOM's VHR programme is vital for migrants who want to leave Lebanon and return home in a safe, regular and dignified manner," said Mathieu Luciano, Head of IOM in Lebanon.
IOM caseworkers conducted vulnerability assessments to identify humanitarian needs requiring immediate attention. Following this, assistance over several months was provided, including hygiene and dignity kits, winter clothing, blankets, and food parcels.
Most of those who returned home traveled to Lebanon in 2021 to work as domestic workers.
However, according to IOM case managers, many were deceived by the type of work and/or salary they would receive.
Labor exploitation, including excessive working hours, unpaid salaries, forced confinement, and even sexual abuse, were reported.
IOM says that the reported vices demonstrate that despite Lebanon's economic deterioration, the country remains a country of destination for migrants and that abuse and exploitation of migrants continues.
"The economic situation in Lebanon is massively impacting migrants' ability to survive. In addition to the impact of Covid-19, migrant workers in the country continue to face consequences of the harsh ongoing economic crisis," added Luciano.
Another 27 Kenyans are currently receiving case management support from IOM and are in the process of being flown home.
"I am grateful for the timely and humanitarian interventions by IOM Lebanon to alleviate the suffering of many migrants and Kenyans alike. Through the coordination with IOM officials 84 Kenyans were able to travel back to Kenya and many more are in the process of doing so," said Halima Mohamud, Kenyan Ambassador to Kuwait.
Returnees are provided with pre-departure accommodation, airport escorts, and cash-based post-arrival support to cover onward travel and/or temporary accommodation.
In addition, returnees have been provided with reintegration support by IOM Kenya. This consists of in-kind support to the value of $1,500 (close to Sh175,000) per individual.
The support is designed to assist returning migrants reestablish sustainable livelihood options in their home country.