ADDIS ABABA: On the occasion of Labor Day, Ethiopia has officially banned its citizens from traveling to Beirut in search of jobs, the African country's Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs has disclosed. Ethiopia passed the bill after it probed the human right violations and domestic violence Ethiopian migrants face behind closed doors in Beirut while employed as maids.
"Suspending work travel to Beirut was the only solution to minimizing the human rights abuses and dangers facing our citizens," said Zenebu Tadesse, deputy minister of state for labor and social affairs.
During the past few years, a number of Ethiopians have died in Lebanon in questionable circumstances.
According to a report published by Ethiopia's official news agency, past human right records show that 67 Ethiopian women have died between 1997 and 1999 alone while working in Beirut.
The ministry said it would take strong action against any employment agency trying to send workers directly to Beirut or through a third country.
Every year, thousands of Ethiopian women, lured by the promise of lucrative jobs and comfortable lives, are shipped out to Middle Eastern countries but end up being trapped in prison-like conditions.
Lebanon is the most popular destination for Ethiopian domestic workers, followed by Bahrain, Dubai and Saudi Arabia. Estimates indicate that there are over 50,000 Ethiopians working in Lebanon.
Over 100,000 Ethiopian workers are believed to be working in the Arab countries of the Middle East.
According to the Ethiopian Women's Association, Ethiopian women in Middle Eastern countries are facing severe human rights abuses, including being subject to beatings, being denied earned wages, sleep deprivation, rape by employers, having parts of their body seared in boiling oil, being burned with hot irons, and thrown out of high-rise windows. As a result, many are driven to despair and mental illness, with some committing suicide. - Agencies