In Lebanon, there are approximately 250,000 domestic migrant workers (DMWs) primarily from Sub-Saharan Africa and South and South East Asia. The system that regulates their right to reside and work in the country, called the kafala, by tying the foreign worker to their employer, creates an imbalance of power, which disproportionately favours the employer. DMWs are in a position of accentuated vulnerability under the kafala system due to the nature of their work, their gender, and ethnicity. The combination of economic and financial crisis, the coronavirus pandemic and the explosion in Beirut have highlighted further the harm caused by the kafala system, and the urgency to reform it. In view of the need to prioritize reform at the domestic level, this research paper puts forward recommendations in labour and migration policies, which have at the core the dismantling of the kafala.
By: Silvana Limni
Published on February 7, 2021