The unfortunate twin blasts in the port of Beirut on the 4th of August have left economic aftermath worse than the destruction caused by the blast. The Lebanon economy crisis has deepened. The sector vastly affected by this tragedy are the migrant workers, leaving thousands without a job and no clear route back home.
The International Organisation for Migration estimates around 24,500 migrants lost their jobs, homes, or were directly affected in other ways by the blasts. Lebanon’s migrant workers numbering around 400,000 hail from mainly Asian and African countries, the Philippines, Kenya, Sierra Leone, and Bangladesh to name a few among other countries.
Amongst the various ways, the migrants got into Lebanon, leaving out illegal migration, The Kafala System, a sponsorship-based employment scheme used by many Middle East Countries is the most common way people migrate into Lebanon. This system is based on the principle that the employer doubles as the sponsor, handling the visa and legal status of the workers. This system is intended to open jobs to migrants but at the risk of being exploited by the employer, many of whom has done the said, owing to which the passports are confiscated preventing the workers from leaving the country.
The economic crisis has left these migrant workers unable to afford basic commodities, let alone send money to their families back home. The crisis has destabilised the lives of many with the Lebanese Pound devalued by 80 percent since October 2019 adding salt to the wound of the economy.
Moreover, the increase in the number of evictions have rendered many workers homeless and while many have pooled their money to rent small rooms, rooms so small that it is impossible to maintain physical distancing risking many and potentially creating a breeding ground for the spread of COVID-19.