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IOM Helps Stranded Migrants in Lebanon


The Geneva-based International Organization for Migration (IOM) says more governments are requesting help in transporting their nationals out of Lebanon to Syria and Jordan.

The International Organization for Migration says increasing numbers of governments that do not have the money to help their nationals in Lebanon are asking it to transport them out of the country.

IOM spokeswoman Jemini Pandya says tens of thousands of migrants from poor developing countries are stranded in Lebanon. She says some of them are particularly vulnerable because they have no money and no travel documents.


"Many cases [involve people] who have been abandoned by their employers who sought refuge for themselves or who are being pressurized by recruitment agencies or their sponsors not to leave, or even by their families back home who are completely dependent on their remittances to continue to live," she said.

Pandya says so far, 5,000 Sri Lankan migrants, out of an estimated population of 90,000 in Lebanon, have asked their embassy for help in leaving. She says the Philippine government has given the International Organization for Migration a list of 2,000 migrants needing assistance. Ethiopia, which has about 20,000 nationals in Lebanon, is asking for assistance for two thousand people it says are in a dire condition.

She says the IOM sent a first convoy of 120 Sri Lankans by land to Damascus, Syria on Thursday. She says all of them were women who were in particular danger.

"They had been temporarily living in the Sri Lankan embassy compound and in a Caritas-run shelter for the past week," she explained. "The embassy is located close to a Lebanese military base that had been bombarded regularly, and so it had become very urgent to get them out. Today, we have had a second convoy of 154 people leaving. They should have crossed the border into Syria already on the way to Damascus. A plane will be taking them to Sri Lanka tonight."

Pandya says six other countries also have asked for help. Among them are Bangladesh, Vietnam, Ghana, Iraq, Moldova and Russia.

The International Organization for Migration is appealing for $12 million. It says this money will enable them to assist up to 10,000 of the most vulnerable stranded migrants reach neighboring countries. From there, it says, they will be taken by air or by sea to their home countries. The IOM says the appeal also will pay for medical evacuations and screenings.

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