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Beirut blast: UAE drive announces $100,000 to repatriate migrants

Filed on September 7, 2020 | Last updated on September 7, 2020 at 03.46 pm
Beirut blast, UAE, drive, announces, $100,000, repatriate, migrants

(Supplied photo)

The amount will go towards safeguarding the welfare of disproportionately affected migrant workers.

Salam Beirut, a UAE campaign to support victims of the explosion that rocked the Lebanese capital, has announced $100,000 to repatriate migrant workers from the city. The workers are facing increasing hunger and homelessness.

Launched in August 2020 by Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Chairperson of The Big Heart Foundation (TBHF) and Eminent Advocate for Refugee Children at UNHCR, Salam Beirut mobilises emergency relief through TBHF in coordination with on-ground relief operators in Lebanon.

The $100,000 fund allocation project to enable the safe return of migrant workers - mainly women - to their home countries is being implemented by Anti-Racism Movement (ARM), a grassroots collective based in Lebanon. The amount will go towards safeguarding the welfare of disproportionately affected migrant workers whose limited access to resources, information, and assistance has rendered them especially vulnerable following the explosion.

In its first partnership with ARM, Salam Beirut will focus on removing the systemic obstacles that prevent migrant workers, who have lost their homes and livelihoods, from going back home. The Port Beirut explosion has further exacerbated the conditions of the migrant workers who were already reeling under an acute financial crisis that worsened with the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

Identifying the vulnerable

Chief among the project activities would be the collection of vital data to register people for repatriation. The collaboration between Salam Beirut and ARM will also extend to renewal of expired passports and handling of paperwork. It cover legal issues that crop up in the case of expired documents. The fund will also help absorb any fees involved for legal representation which is one of the chief barriers preventing a migrant from returning home.

All Covid-19 related requirements such as PCR tests and mandatory quarantine requirements will also be taken care of.

As per the 2018 official statistics of the Ministry of Labour in Lebanon, Ethiopians accounted for majority of the 270,000 legal foreign workers.

Mariam Al Hammadi, Director of TBHF, said: "As marginalised populations, migrant workers often fall between the cracks of response systems during a crisis. The Beirut Port explosion has added to the woes of the migrant workers who are among the most vulnerable segments of the Lebanese society. Many of them have been rendered homeless, with no livelihoods to sustain themselves. The economic crisis and the pandemic have further complicated their dire situations." 

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