mardi 18 juillet 2006

Caritas Lebanon Migrants Center Relief Activities - Update 18/07/2006

All detained migrants were released from the Retention Center for Foreign Persons in Adlieh, the Central Prison of Roumieh and the prison of Tripoli in the North. The Migrant Center has rent a shelter in the mountain to accommodate Women Migrant Workers that were detained till their repatriation to their respective homelands. All this vulnerable population’s needs are being met, and the Migrants Center’s medico-social staff (that used to work in the office at the Retention Center) is ensuring a presence with them round the clock, 24/7.

Laksetha Center, as always, has opened widely its portals to receive a flow of migrant women from different nationalities, some with their children as well. However, Laksetha was full to accommodate all persons who addressed the Center seeking refuge. Consequently, a shelter was rent as well in the mountain of Kesrouan to receive such population. The numbers are huge and we are overwhelmed to say the least.

Currently, Caritas Lebanon Migrants Centre has started coordinating and collaborating closely with the Sri Lankan Embassy for the evacuation of the first group of Sri Lankan nationals from Beirut to Damascus, and onward home. Sri Lankan government has plans to charter an airplane to Damascus to fly the displaced expatriates to their home country. The initial group will be 300 Sri Lankans. However, the Embassy has informed us that there are approximately 5,000 in need of safe transport home.

Further to a request from the Sri Lankan Embassy, the Migrant Center started coordinating buses for transportation and food parcels for the journey from Beirut to the capital of Syria. We have established the contact with Caritas Syria who will be arranging one-night accommodations for the group in Damascus, in a Daughters of Charity Convent.

As we continue to make arrangements with the Sri Lankan Embassy for the safe evacuation, we have asked the Embassy to temporarily forward its expatriates to an office within the Caritas Lebanon Migrants Centre premises, as the Embassy’s location is not secure due to the current situation. Social workers create a file on each migrant who arrives; they take passport photos for all of them, and help each individual to fill in the Embassy form. A social worker takes then all filled-in forms to the Embassy, which is issuing Laissez-passer for travel. In addition, we are working closely with the Lebanese General Security and establishing a list of those departing, in order to facilitate their departure.

Additionally, a record of all evacuees and their home addresses is being drawn up. This list is communicated to Caritas Sri Lanka (SEDEC), which will meet the group at the airport in Colombo. Accommodations and transportation will be provided for those migrants who will need to travel beyond Colombo to their respective homes.

We are also working with the Philippine Embassy and Ethiopian Consulate for the safe evacuation of their nationals willing to travel back to their homeland.