BY Victoria Ojeme
Lebanese Ambassador to Nigeria, Houssam Diab has said its government has suspended issuance of visa to domestic staff from Nigeria, saying Most Nigerians; especially ladies in Lebanon are not trafficked but entered into the country legally.
Ambassador Diab said that the suspension became necessary by a recent trending video of some Nigerian ladies who were said to be enslaved in Lebanon.
Diab made this disclosure when he visited the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama in his office Friday.
He also said, additional 200 stranded Nigerians who have registered with the Nigerian Mission in Beirut are expected to arrive Nigeria soon.
According to Diab, the Nigerian ladies who recently called for help in viral videos were stranded in Lebanon because they could no longer be paid by their employees as a result of the recent economic downturn in the country.
DIab further explained that the temporal ban on the issuance of visas to domestic workers since May has helped in mitigating the level at which the ladies are left stranded as there have been no new reported case.
“As of 1st may the Lebanese government have 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.
He also noted that of the estimated 5,000 Nigerians living in Lebanon, majority of them are gainfully employed.
Diab said the Lebanese government and community in Nigeria have successfully evacuated 500 Nigerian ladies from Lebanon with 200 more to be evacuated soonest.
“There are just very few cases of abuse, we have to be careful as a lot of these videos circulating on social media are not all true and they are affecting the ones doing legitimate jobs and making a salary,” Diab added.
Onyeama appreciated the Lebanese government and the Lebanese community in Nigeria for their efforts in facilitating the return of the stranded Nigerian girls.
The Minister said “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 we have a long history between Nigerian and Lebanese communities,” Onyeama said