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Lebanon stops issuance of Visa for domestic work to Nigerians

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BY NICHOLAS ABE


To further halt the rising spate of human trafficking from Nigeria to Lebanon, the Lebanese Ambassador to Nigeria, Houssam Diab, said on Thursday that the Embassy has suspended issuing working visas to Nigerians seeking domestic employment in Lebanon.

Ambassador Diab told the visiting Chairman/CEO of Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Abike Dabiri-Erewa, in his Abuja office that the mission had suspended the visa issuance since May 1.

Diab said the suspension followed the video of Peace Busari, a Nigerian lady, auctioned by a “non-Lebanese” national, in Lebanon, on Social media in April this year, went viral.

He said the suspension was to stem the tide for such categories of workers, pending the time the procedure would be properly harmonised in line with modalities stipulated by Nigeria’s Ministry of Labour.

The Ambassador said the Lebanese government in conjunction with the Lebanese community in Nigeria had brought back from Lebanon 69, out of 79 Nigerians, allegedly stranded and abused by their employers back to the country.

He explained that the remaining 10 Nigerians, who would be transported home soon after the Covid-19 lockdown, have some cases to answer and would be repatriated home once they are through with their cases.

Diab clarified that the Embassy and the Lebanese community paid over $150,000 USD to evacuate the 69 Nigerians and also paid for their 14 days quarantine, adding that they were not trafficked nor went to Lebanon illegally but were abused by their employers who also breached the working agreement and did not have money to bring them back.

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The Ambassador regrettably said some of the Nigerians did not want to come back home despite their challenges but preferred to change their workplace to be able to pay up their agents who facilitated their travelling to Lebanon.

According to a statement issued Thursday in Abuja by the Head, Media and Public Relations Unit, NIDCOM, Abdur-Rahman Balogun, Mrs. Dabiri-Erewa visited Ambassador Diab to enquire when the remaining 10 Nigerians would be brought back into the country, to start a new life.

She said the Commission was working out an arrangement with the Ministry of Labour to model it after the Philippines working scheme where verification and certification must be provided between agents, employers and prospective employees, to prevent further unfortunate cases.

She added that a platform should be available for aggrieved domestic staff to lay complaints, legally.

Dabiri-Erewa commended the Ambassador for his assistance especially in evacuating 69 Nigerians and the safe release of the Nigerian lady who was advertised for sale on social media.

She however said it was necessary for the public to know that the girl refused to come back to Nigeria but preferred to renegotiate with another employer in Lebanon and has since gained employment there.

Highlight of the meeting include a resolution for both the Lebanese Ambassador and the Chairman, NiDCOM, to work for the growth and development of both the Nigerian and Lebanese Diaspora.

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