Migrant workers attend a rally to mark International Domestic Workers Day in Beirut, Sunday, June 24, 2018. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)
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Banchyi's voice broke as she recounted what is known of the death of Lembibo, a domestic worker from Ethiopia who was discovered drowned inthe swimming pool of her recruiting agent in August. Banchyi herself emigrated from Ethiopia seven years ago, lured by what she now describes as false promises. She addressed an audience of over 200 activists, members of the Ethiopian, Sri Lankan and Filipino workers communities, as well as Lebanese people, at a recent memorial service for Lembibo at the Resurrection Church in Hazmieh.Banchyi urged the Lebanese people to help abolish the kafala employee sponsorship system, which she compared to "modern-day slavery". Under the kafala system, which is widely implemented across the Arab world, unskilled migrant workers are sponsored by an employee who is charged with their visa status.Ethiopian community representatives called on Abiy Ahmed, Ethiopia's prime minister, to visit Lebanon, meet with representatives from the Ethiopian community, negotiate with the Lebanese government on legal protections for Ethiopian nationals working in the country, and for a crackdown on abuses by Lebanese agencies that recruit Ethiopian workers.
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