Ethiopia is repatriating hundreds of its citizens working abroad, many of who are stranded because of the coronavirus pandemic. The first batch including 335 nationals returned from Beirut, with hundreds more expected to arrive over the weekend.
Thousands of migrant workers are among the most vulnerable groups as an unprecedented economic and financial crisis in Lebanon along with a global pandemic is forcing these migrants back home.
There are over 250,000 registered migrant workers in Lebanon, a tiny Mediterranean country of over five million people.
Lebanon’s unprecedented foreign currency crunch means employers can no longer pay in dollars. The local currency, pegged to the dollar and stable for nearly 30 years, now costs three times as much on the black market.
Some workers report not being paid at all. A 2016 International Labour Organization study found that out of 1,200 employers surveyed, more than 94% of them withheld their workers passport. These returnees will be quarantined for two weeks before they are allowed to go home.