“Sierra Leonean and other African maids have been abused in the Middle East for long” H. R. Report.
By Alpha Kamara in D.C.
Five Sierra Leonean women have died in a mysterious fire in a building occupied by mostly West African migrant workers/maids in Lebanon. The migrant workers of the Sad-El-Bouchrien neighborhood were woken up from their sleep by 03:00 am on Saturday March 11th by the mysterious fire in the building.
According to our source, a personal dispute broke out between several African girls from Sierra Leone and Ghana with Lebanese and Syrian men from the seventh and third floors of the building.
“The argument escalated to the point where a number of the women were thrown from the seventh-floor balcony to the sixth floor by alleged Lebanese men before setting the building ablaze. Another lady also jumped from the sixth floor to the ground to avoid the fire. But also died on the spot,” the source said.
The cause of the fire has not been identified by the Lebanese authorities. Some of the victims also alleged they called the Lebanese police but no response was made. After the fire incident, five Sierra Leonean women were confirmed dead while two others are in hospital receiving treatment.
The security forces in the area informed the Lebanon Public Prosecutor Judge Ghada Aoun, who assigned the Internal Security Forces’ accidents bureau to investigate the incident and transferred the file to the New Jdeideh Court. The reasons behind the clash are still unknown, but our sources said some of the Sierra Leonean and Ghanian maids residing in the building were also engaged in prostitution to get extra income.
Meanwhile, a press release from Sierra Leonean consulate in Lebanon has acknowledged the loss of five Sierra Leoneans in the fire incident as investigation continues.
“On March 11 a devastating fire in the Bouchrieh Dam region of Lebanon tragically claimed the lives of five citizens, while two others are currently hospitalized in critical condition. The consulate is working closely with both the Lebanese police and the Sierra Leonean Government to obtain a thorough report once investigations conclude,” the statement said.
The Consulate wishes to reaffirm that it is currently in engagement with the authorities in Lebanon to ensure that the welfare of Sierra Leoneans in the country is always guaranteed.
Meanwhile, there have been several reports of human rights abuses and violations against Sierra Leonean and other African migrants working in the Gulf region including Lebanon and Kuwait. There are numerous videos online where either their employers or their wives are inflicting punishment including death for some minor offences. Other testimonies from former victims have also revealed the inhuman treatments they suffered in the hands of their Lebanese and Kuwaiti employers.