WHAT WE DO

We believe that a lot more can be done to support Kenyan migrant workers in need during this time of global unrests.

Photo credit: Aline Deschamps

Hundreds of Kenyan Migrant domestic workers are stranded in Lebanon and the Gulf countries as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some are returning with no financial resouces and traumatised. Our goal is to support their return and reintegration through cash transfers, psychosocial support and financial aid for longterm livelihood projects.

100s

Of women

3

Programmes of support

3

Countries


Kenyan Migrant Workers in Lebanon


Our work began out of deep concern about Kenyan migrant workers in Lebanon, who had recently found themselves unemployed and displaced following the COVID-19 pandemic and August 4th explosions in Beirut.

Background Context



There are an estimated 3,000 Kenyan migrant domestic workers in Lebanon, according to sources in Lebanon. Many of them had moved to Beirut to work as domestic workers and were contracted under Kafala, a system of employment that ties a migrant worker’s immigration status to their employer.


The COVID-19 pandemic coupled with effects of the August 4th explosion has left many of them jobless and homeless. Some were abandoned outside the consulate by employers after months of unpaid wages. Some had escaped from abusive employers and subsequently become undocumented surviving on part-time informal jobs.

Before the pandemic, many migrant domestic workers in the Middle East had shared accounts of abuse and exploitation at the hands of their employers & recruitment agencies:


  • Working 17 – 20 hours/day
  • Withholding of wages
  • Passport confiscation
  • Physical & sexual abuse
  • Racist treatment


Despite numerous reforms to address this issue including establishment of the National Employment Authority (NEA) to oversee labour migration governance, strict monitoring and enforcement is still needed.

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CNN expose published

In July 2020, the CNN published an exposé that highlighted allegations of abuse and exploitation meted against Kenyan nationals by Consular staff in Beirut, Lebanon. The allegation include extortion, physical and verbal assault.

Beirut Explosion

In August 4th 2020, an explosion happened in Beirut causing 204 deaths, 6,500 injuries, and US$15 billion in property damage, and leaving an estimated 300,000 people homeless. Many migrant domestic workers were severely impacted.


Protests in Beirut


Following the explosion, a group of Kenyan migrant domestic workers organise a protest outside the Beirut consulate demanding repatriation from the government.


Delays in repatriation

The Kenyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, through the Embassy in Kuwait, responded to the issue by stating that it would process emergency travel certificates for Kenyan migrants in Beirut who did not have valid passports, and ensure that immigration-related penalties were waived for undocumented migrant workers. However there was much delay forcing Kenyans rto sleep in the streets in Beirut surviving on food and other donations from local wellwishers.


Wellwishers intervene


In September 2020, two Lebanese wellwishers rallied donations online and supported the repatriation of over 122 Kenyan women by purchasing their flight tickets, paying for their COVID-19 tests and obtaining immigration clearances.


Current situation


Some Kenyans chose to remain in Lebanon to seek new employment opportunities. Others are stuck in their employers’ homes at risk of abuse and exploitation. Many of the returnees are facing financial challnges after months of being out of work or having their wages stolen by employers. Some are also traumatised, pregnant or returning with young children. Read their stories.


Our Areas of Work


Return

We provide relief support to Kenyan migrant domestic workers in need of repatriation

in the Middle East currently focusing on Lebanon and Bahrain.

Financial aid

We facilitate the provision of cash transfers for basic needs such as food, medicine and other emergencies for workers in need of repatriation.

Providing information

Provision of information on official processes and requirements, including travel and COVID-19-related requirements from the Lebanese, Bahrain and Kenyan governments.

Travel costs

Once workers have been repatriated back to Kenya, where there is need we cover their travel costs from the airport to their counties of origin.

Reintegration

We provide holistic support to migrant worker returnees to aid their reintegration

process in a dignified manner.

Cash Transfers

Many returnees are coming back with nothing due to cases of wage theft by employers and job losses. We provide one off cash transfers to every returnees in our network for emergencies and basic needs while they readjust to life in their communities.

Medical & other needs

We facilitate referrals for other needs such as medical care and shelter by working with individuals and organisations that cater to these needs.

Psychosocial Support

Some of the returnees in our network have experienced traumatic accounts of abuse and exploitation at the hands of their employers and recruitment agencies. We provide free counselling sessions and other forms of psychosocial support through our volunteer counsellors.

Livelihood support

We are also helping returnees in our network to self-organise and identify long term solutions to their reintegration challenges such as creating income generating activities. We aim to support these activities through financial aid and providing upskilling as needed. You can support us by donating or partnering with us.

Advocacy

We want to create awareness of the experiences of Kenyan migrant domestic workers

in the Middle East, and advocate for better labour and social protections.

Educating

Through our blog, podcast and social media platforms. we comprehensively examine the issue of Kenyan labour migration to the Middle East. We feature stories shared by migrant workers about their experiences, discuss structural factors and what better labour practice we need to adopt. Two members of our team also recently conducted research that can be found here.

Monitoring enforcement

We closely monitor the implementation and enforcement of reforms around labour migration policies and regulations by the governments of Kenya and the countries of destination to ensure accountability for social and labour protections of migrant workers. Read our commentary and analysis.

Campaigning

Kafala system is the biggest enabling factor for the abuse & labour exploitation of Migrant workers as it ties the immigration status of migrant workers to their employers. In collaboration with other stakeholders, we advocate for the abolition of Kafala and an end to other oppressive migration labour practices.



How We Work



Dignity at the centre of our work

We have two volunteer community organisers in based in Beirut and Nairobi (both migrant domestic workers) facilitating our engagement with Kenyan migrant domestic workers in Lebanon and returnees in Kenya through referrals. We are also working in partnership with Migrant Rights organisations who are referring Kenyan migrant domestic workers in need to us.

Get in touch

Please contact us using the form below

'send us home kenya' words embedded inside a house icon in the Kenyan flag colours.

We are looking for one or two financial professionals to provide advisory, auditing and financial reporting support to ensure that every shilling raised is accounted for. If this sounds like you, get in touch with us using this form.

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Our newsletter is a collection of news, reports & updates of the situation of Kenyan Migrant Domestic workers in Lebanon & elsewhere in the Middle East.