There are about a quarter-million migrant workers in Lebanon, many of them from Ethiopia, but as the coronavirus continues to wreak havoc on the former country's economy, maids from the latter are finding themselves suddenly out of a job and dumped on the doorstep of the Ethiopian Embassy in Beirut. The Telegraph started reporting earlier this month on the phenomenon, which has left dozens of domestic servants abandoned and with nowhere to go. "I was thrown on the side of the road like a piece of garbage," says a 20-year-old maid named Aseem. "I am not garbage. How could she do this to me?" The paper notes that Lebanese currency has lost 70% of its value since October, unemployment rates are rising, and the cost of staples has gone up threefold, all of which have helped drain people's savings accounts.
And that has left many of the working-class and middle-class families, who typically can afford cheap live-in labor, with no way to now afford domestic help. With no real labor laws on the books for these type of workers—which means no minimum wage, no set days off or limits to hours worked, and no way to register complaints about employers—the system "enables modern-day slavery in our houses," Farah Salka, the head of Lebanon's Anti-Racism Movement, tells the BBC. The first group of 35 maids dropped off at the embassy earlier in June have since been taken to an NGO-managed shelter, but as word spread, more maids have been left there to sleep on the pavement. Meanwhile, the embassy and Ethiopian ambassador aren't responding. "I didn't expect [my employer] to throw me on the streets ... without my passport or any clothes," Aseem tells the Telegraph. (Read more Lebanon stories.)