Govt reopens Lebanon for migrant workers

KATHMANDU: The Department of Foreign Employment (DoFE) reopened Lebanon for Nepali blue-collar jobseekers on Tuesday. DoFE had stopped granting work permits for Lebanon since December 28 last year after escalating violence there and in neighbouring Israel and Palestinian territories.

The decision was taken in the context of shrinking opportunities in destination countries due to the global economic crisis. “We decided to reopen Lebanon after getting confirmation of the security of Nepali migrant workers there,” said DoFE director general Mohan Krishna Sapkota.

However, DoFE will give work permits to only those going through foreign employment agencies. “They (foreign employment agencies) should take the responsibility for Nepali migrant workers in Lebanon,” Sapkota added. DoFE is planning to coordinate with Caritas, an international non-governmental organization and the Non-Resident Nepali Association (NRNA) to protect the rights of Nepali workers in foreign lands.

Cases of abuse of Nepali women workers have been seen in Lebanon. Those women who go through illegal channels are especially prone to abuse as well as those working in informal sectors. Incompetence and ignorance of the host country’s culture are believed to be triggers for violence against migrant workers in Lebanon and other destination countries.

War-torn Lebanon is a popular destination for Nepali women since long. Around 15,000 Nepalis, most of

them women, are working as house-helps and also in the informal sectors there. A country of four million, Lebanon is accommodating 1.25 million migrant labours from Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, the Philippines and Ethiopia.

According to official statistics, a total of 1,969 Nepali workers left for Lebanon in the fiscal year 2007-08 and around 1,200 workers in the first nine months of the current fiscal year 2008-09.