After human rights violations were reported by 13 migrant workers in July 2020, S.M., a migrant worker residing in Lebanon, reached out to the Lebanese Center for Human Rights (CLDH) in September 2020, claiming that her rights had been violated during her stay in one of Caritas’ shelters.

CLDH reached out to Caritas in order to confirm if S.M. was working in the shelter, after she reported unpaid salary, verbal abuse, inconvenient sleeping conditions, and movement restrictions. 

First, CLDH requested clarification and a transparent investigation on her case. Afterwards, a meeting was held with several members of Caritas staff, including a lawyer from Caritas, S.M. and CLDH’ social worker, lawyer, and protection officer. S.M. was hesitant to confront Caritas with the violations, as the alleged perpetrators themselves were present in the meeting.

To confirm her previously alleged claim, CLDH’ social worker held a private intake with S.M. in which she explicitly expressed the following: 

Staying in the Dora shelter and working there as a housekeeper.

-  Requesting a promised $200 salary before working but never receiving it as Caritas claimed to have no money due to the dollar crisis. 

-  Being submitted to verbal abuse upon asking any questions or complaining about the quality of the food.

-  Enduring inconvenient sleeping conditions along with other migrant workers, where they had to sleep on the floor without air conditioning.

-  Never receiving updates about her legal case.

-  Being subjected to ill medical and hygiene conditions, as she stated that during winter, they were allowed only one shower per week and were asked to sleep whenever they had a medical condition. 

-  Being threatened by Caritas staff that police officers were  waiting for her outside in case she would try to leave the shelter.

-  Not receiving any psychological support even though she was experiencing discomfort.

-  Upon leaving the shelter, she did not meet with the Social Worker and was afraid to be stuck in the shelter if she shared honest feedback during the exit interview.

We call on Caritas Lebanon to:

Conduct an investigation on the case of S.M. in order to meet her demands.

-  Protect the workers staying in the shelters from any ill-treatment or violations of their rights.

-  Ensure that freedom of movement, expression, and access to  basic needs is respected. 

-  Ensure that workers are fully informed about their legal and medical status.

-  Provide proper sleeping and food conditions to residents of the shelter.

-  Ensure psycho-social support to residents of the shelter.

-  Make sure residents acknowledge their rights and are given the freedom to express feedback at any moment.

-  Ensure clear communication with residents and Caritas Lebanon staff to avoid confusion and misleading consequences.


 We also call on relevant donors to conduct an objective investigation into the matter to ensure residents’ safety and wellbeing.

It is worth noting that in July 2020, the Lebanese Center for Human Rights and Anti-Racism Movement (ARM) shared a public statement highlighting the case of 13 domestic migrant workers reporting that their rights were violated at Caritas Lebanon shelter.

Back then, the workers also reported that they were victims of privation of liberty, had no access to their mobile phones and were only given food and a place to sleep. Some of the workers also stated that Caritas Lebanon staff denied them access to their luggage, allowing them to only take their pyjamas.

Although the issue was raised to several stakeholders, and that Caritas ensured CLDH and ARM access to their shelter, explained the shelter guidelines, and pledged to cooperate with the two organizations, no palpable change occurred and both organizations never accessed the shelter.

We call on the Ministry of Labor to take immediate action to grant S.M. and other migrant workers’ rights in Lebanon, starting with abolishing the KAFALA system and protecting them from any form of exploitation in shelters and homes.