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Filipina domestic worker commits suicide in Lebanon: embassy

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A Filipina domestic worker has committed suicide in Lebanon at a shelter run by her embassy, consular officials said Sunday, days after a rights group complained about accommodation at the shelter.

The embassy, in a statement posted on its Facebook page, said the unnamed “household service worker” arrived on Friday at the shelter and the next day “reportedly jumped from a room she was sharing” with two others.

She died of her injuries on Sunday, it said, adding that “details of the incident are currently being investigated”.

An estimated 250,000 domestic workers — mostly from Ethiopia, the Philippines and Sri Lanka — live in Lebanon, many in conditions condemned by rights groups.

Those conditions have worsened in recent months as Lebanon is grappling with its worst economic crisis in decades, as well as a coronavirus lockdown.

Some Lebanese families have started paying their home help in the depreciating local currency, while others are now unable to pay them at all, with increasing reports of domestic workers being evicted onto the streets.

A sponsorship system known as “kafala” excludes maids, nannies and carers from Lebanon’s labour law, and leaves them at the mercy of their employers, who pay wages as low as $150 a month.

The death of the Filipina domestic worker comes after a visit to the embassy shelter by a delegation from Lebanon’s National Human Rights Commission.

On Monday the commission, in a letter sent to the embassy and posted on Facebook, criticised conditions at the shelter.

“The occupancy exceeds the official capacity,” it said.

“Respect the minimum requirements for daily outdoor excercise” and “make available appropriate psychological support to all women and staff,” the rights group added.

It also called on Lebanese authorities to “ensure that migrant domestic workers are protected from exploitative working conditions during the lockdown”.

A video posted by the embassy on its Facebook page Monday said the shelter was currently home to 26 people who receive “all meals and necessities” free of charge. Agence France-Presse

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