A migrant worker from the Philippines committed suicide in Lebanon at a reception center at her embassy, consular authorities reported on Sunday, foreign domestic workers being hit hard by the sinking of the Lebanese economy. "An investigation is currently being conducted into the circumstances" of the drama, said a statement from the Department of Foreign Affairs, published Sunday on the Facebook account of the Embassy of the Philippines in Lebanon.
The victim died Sunday, after apparently "jumped Saturday from the room she shared with two other workers" , according to the press release, which said that she had arrived in the reception center on Friday. "The embassy ensures the safety of other workers in the reception center and will provide assistance when necessary," the statement said.
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Lebanon has been going through a serious economic crisis since last year, marked by a shortage of dollars and a sharp depreciation of the Lebanese pound which have shaken the purchasing power of families. Faced with this debacle, aggravated by the pandemic of the new coronavirus, many Lebanese are now paying domestic workers in pounds, against dollars previously. Some employers even stopped paying their wages or kicked them out overnight. Faced with the scale of the tragedy, the Lebanese government announced the start of repatriation flights, to Ethiopia and Egypt to begin.
On Monday, the National Commission for Human Rights of Lebanon, a body attached to the government, announced that it had visited the reception center of the Embassy of the Philippines, ensuring that the rate of "occupation exceeded official capacity" , all believing that social distancing measures could not be respected. In a letter posted on Facebook and sent to the embassy, the organization calls for "compliance with the minimum required for daily physical exercise outdoors" and to make available "adequate psychological support for all women and staff" .
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In a video released Monday, the Philippine embassy said it currently supports 26 people who are fed and given everything they need for free. "Embassy staff regularly visit (the center) to make sure everyone has access to the assistance they need." In recent weeks, several associations have reported an increase in calls for help from domestic workers. Some 250,000 immigrant workers, the vast majority from Ethiopia, the Philippines and Sri Lanka, are employed in Lebanon under a sponsorship system called "kafala", which, according to NGOs, deprives them of the provisions of the right to work.