A group of Kenyan domestic workers stranded in Lebanon demands repatriation after a blast in Beirut that led to job losses. They have been sleeping on mattresses outside the Kenyan embassy.
Lebanon security situation to delay help for stranded Kenyans
The government says there might be delays of up to one week in the issuance of emergency travel papers to Kenyans stranded in Lebanon.
The warning came as 43 Kenyans registered with the honorary consulate in Beirut, seeking help to leave the country.
The Kenyan Embassy in Kuwait, accredited to Lebanon, said the state of emergency imposed on Beirut after last week’s deadly port blast means some services will take longer to be provided. It also blamed “rowdy” Kenyans for hampering services at the consulate.
“We anticipate some delays in clearance of the exit documents as the military takes over management of essential services from the public service following extension of the state of emergency in Beirut, as a result of the devastating blast on August 4, 2020,” a statement from the embassy said on Friday.
A number of Kenyans have been protesting outside the consulate in Beirut seeking to be helped to return home.
While the government says it is ready to issue emergency travel papers, officials also blamed the protesting Kenyans for impeding services.
“Efforts by security agents to request them to move out and allow seamless consulate operations have not been successful. The police have therefore asked the honorary consul and his officers to stay away for security reasons.”
The embassy paperwork for issuance of the Emergency Travel certificate [ETC], the document one gets if not in possession of a passport in order to be allowed to travel, will take one week.
It has not been clear if the women camping outside the consulate were affected by the blast and how they lost their passports.
Officially, Kenya says three nationals were injured in the blast, treated and discharged from hospital. Others who lost homes were assisted locally, the mission said.
Lebanon, though, is one of the Middle East countries where Kenyan domestic workers often get trafficked to.
In such circumstances, the women may have surrendered their travel documents to their employers, part of a controversial bonding system called Kafala.
In a response to a series of video clips of the protests since Monday, Kenya’s embassy in Kuwait said their employment and immigration status in Leban was still “unknown.”
On Friday, the mission said it was working with local NGOs to provide emergency shelter and food.