Community decries Lembibo’s death
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.
Human rights groups have long criticized the system for leaving workers vulnerable to exploitation.
Banchyi said she was happy to see the number of Lebanese people who came to the event, saying it was their responsibility to reform the country’s labor laws. “We are losing the lives of the young generation every day. We are human beings who are here to work like any Lebanese people who travel all over the world to seek better lives. We deserve respect and we need justice. Unless the [kafala] system is removed, nothing can be done,” she said.
“Agencies [bringing Ethiopians to Lebanon] have all the power,” she told The Daily Star.
Even after finding employment for Lembibo at the house of an octogenarian couple in Nabatieh, her agent, identified as Ali Hoteit, showed up at her workplace to physically abuse her, Al-Jadeed TV reported in August.