Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
The Ambassador of the Republic of Lebanon to Nigeria, Houssam Diab, has disclosed that majority of Nigerian girls in Lebanon were not trafficked into the country.
This was even as the Lebanese envoy said out of the estimated 5,000 Nigerians living in Lebanon, majority of them were gainfully employed.
Diab further said the Government of Lebanon and the Lebanese community in Nigeria, have so far since the advent of COVID-19, successfully returned 500 Nigerian ladies from Lebanon, with 200 expected to arrive soon.
Diab who made the clarification during a visit to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, said majority of Nigerian girls were legally residing in the country.
He however said Nigerian ladies who recently called for assistance in a video that went viral, were those who were stranded their employees could no longer meet their financial obligations.
The Lebanese envoy attributed the development to the recent economic relapse in Lebanon.
Diab further stated that the imposition of temporary ban on the issuance of visas to domestic workers since May, 2020, has helped in reducing the level at which the ladies were left stranded as there have been no new reported case.
“As of 1st May, the Lebanese government has stopped issuing visas for domestic workers coming from Nigeria.
“This will definitely stop any new cases from arising. They will not be able to get into Lebanon. The specificity for the issue at Lebanon is that all these girls are entering into Lebanon legally. There is no human trafficking illegally into Lebanon.
“90 percent of these agencies are Nigerian agencies. They are applying through Lebanese agencies in Lebanon through the security general to acquire work visas and work permits for these ladies.
“This is how the process used to be. So, by stopping the issuing of the visas, we would have stopped new cases from arising,” Diab said.
On his part, Onyeama thanked the Government of Lebanon and the Lebanese Community in Nigeria for the gesture in ensuring the return of the stranded Nigerian ladies.
“The temporary ban on visa issuance will give Nigeria time to review the whole situation and to ensure that we get our labour laws in place.
“And if we have good regulations of that mechanisms, and it cannot be a means for exploitation in anyway and this is a very good initiative and one that we fully support.
“As we battle with the strong involvement of the Embassy in Beirut, the immediate challenge was to repatriate these girls and we would like to offer our profound gratitude to the Lebanese Community for their efforts to make available, resources to bring these girls back and bring them back fairly quickly.
“We appreciate that enormously because it was a challenge to bring them back. The resources were not there and you very kindly have stepped in and what that shows is that we have a long history between Nigerian and Lebanese communities,”Onyeama said.