The Middle East is now home to hundreds of thousands of foreign workers who have been brought in to handle the dirty jobs of modern life. Of the four million people in Lebanon, over 150,000 are foreign workers, many domestic servants brought in from places like the Philippines or Sri Lanka. Siriani, a Sri Lankan girl arrived nine years ago at the age of 20 and since that time has worked without pay or being able to leave the house while always under control of her employers. “I put up with it praying things to get better, but then I had enough. I had to run away or die.” Fortunately, the teenage son of her employers took pity and gave her some money so she could flee. The Catholic organization, Cavitas Lebanon offered her refuge. Cavitas estimates thousands of young girls like Siriani are physically and mentally abused by employers and many are sexually molested. This year four committed suicide. At present, there are no laws in Lebanon that protect the rights of foreign workers.
It is estimated over 200 million people are currently migrants living in another land and attempting to create a new life. In many cases, things work out, but there are also millions who endure brutality, abuse, and violence on the part of employers. Perhaps, it is time for the United Nations to address the need for a global approach to immigration as well as establishing basic human rights for these people.