Throughout the years, Lebanon has received over 250000 of migrant domestic workers (MDW) from various regions of the world. These workers are exposed to various forms of discrimination and other human rights violations due to misconceptions and an absence of protective legal and administrative regulations. The lack of legal protection is further compounded by the sponsorship system, otherwise known as the “kafala” system. The core principle of this system is that the MDW’s legal residency and work permits are directly sponsored by the employer. Violations caused by the Kafala system and a weak rule of law have transformed the status of MDWs to victims of trafficking and abuse by the recruitment agencies in counties of origin and destination countries.

“Towards Increased Protection for MDWs in Lebanon” is an ALEF project funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) which aims at raising the awareness on MDWs’ issues like access to justice, working and living conditions, referral systems, administrative detention and violence against them, and to enhance and support already existing protection mechanisms as well as lobbying for more protection and reforms on the embassies, the General Security Office (GSO) and the Ministry of Labor (MoL) level.

Actually, despite the current deadlock in Lebanon’s legislative system, the work of several civil society organizations specializing in migrant domestic worker issues has been very thorough in terms of assessing and addressing the legal framework and the Kafala system. ALEF seeks to explore the success of previously implemented initiatives and build on their strengths while also assessing any weaknesses and lobbying for the adoption of proposed reforms.

ALEF’s intervention will focus on advocacy and awareness efforts based on a baseline-mapping project, which will shed light on existing mechanisms and highlight successes and shortcomings in order for the suggested protection framework to be well founded and more feasible. MDWs will participate in the study in order to provide information, feedback and a baseline to measure future changes. The study will guide ALEF’s efforts towards developing an overall protection framework which will address the role of all relevant stakeholders, mainly embassies, Ministry of Labor and the GSO, in providing more protection for MDWs.

In order for ALEF to develop the desired framework, they will discuss their findings with CSOs and other relevant stakeholders while engaging in discussions on the desired framework. CSOs provide essential experience and knowledge that will help ALEF assess different problems that MDWs face on a daily basis. After the development of the framework, ALEF plans to engage in advocacy and lobbying efforts to push for the adoption and implementation of the framework by the relevant stakeholders – MoL, embassies, GSOs. ALEF will then promote the suggested protection framework to the public, the migrant workers and the targeted stakeholders

ALEF seeks through this project to create and implement an adequate protection framework that will guaranty the respect of MDW rights in Lebanon. At the same time, this intervention will raise awareness on specific protection concerns relating to the MDWs and to address these concerns by collaborating with all stakeholders.