This Is Lebanon | The Cameroonian consulate of Lebanon is blocking the process of repatriation for Cameroonian women stranded in Lebanon. Cindy, President of Cameroonian Community in Lebanon and @Help_Them_Home are asking you to join the fight with the Cameroonian women so that they can GO HOME. More details below.
On the 16th of August 2020, Cameroonian women stranded in Lebanon began protesting at the Cameroonian Consulate of Lebanon. They have been waiting over six months to be repatriated back to the Cameroons.
Honorary Consul, Jean Abboud has taken over $800 USD from each woman to process their Emergency Travel Certificate, because their employers illegally confiscated their passports (as over 94% of employers do). However, he has provided the workers no information about when they will be able to escape one of the world’s worst economic crises to go home. Cindy, President of Cameroonian Community in Lebanon, and @Help_Them_home have inquired about purchasing their tickets, but Jean Abboud and his staff refuse to lift a finger for them to have the necessary paperwork in order that they might evacuate back to their homes and families.
Jean Abboud has served as Honorary Consul for 22 years. He is a Lebanese national and the Cameroon’s only diplomatic representation for their citizens in Lebanon. He leverages his position to operate a travel agency as if it were an extension of the consulate. Furthermore, he works closely with people who own the recruiting agencies (slave traders), which is not without financial benefits. After @Help_Them_Home published the initial report on this incident, a woman from New Zealand contacted This Is Lebanon with a record of Honorary Consul Abboud’s reply to her inquiry into the matter.
His reply was unclear as to why the workers are not able to get their documents to go home. Abboud seems to suggest that the problem is that they “are illegal.” However, he does assert that it is “our [Honorary Consulate’s] responsibility” and other people should not get involved, but failed to offer a clear answer as to how the Honorary Consulate is going to take care of their responsibility. He ends his rant with stating, “some people as mafia are trafiquing they ask from good people to buy tikets. And the mafia will go bo some socieities to take the price another time.” Although there have been many Cameroonian workers, activists and organizations inquired about the list, Abboud claimed that the “Mafia are asking for the list only.”
Honorary Consul Jean Abboud is assisted by his secretary, Georgette Chidiac (Joujou Chidiac). However, she has also refused to help, and is known to treat the Cameroonian nationals poorly. The workers report that:
- “She rejects us as if we were objects. She doesn’t think about us. Because we’re African, we have to stay outside. It’s NOT nice.”
- “When we call her, she doesn’t give a shit, she insults us, she doesn’t give a shit.”
- “Our [secretary] Consulate, she must leave that office, because she doesn’t care about us. How many months?!”
- “When we come to see her, she doesn’t treat us with basic courtesy.”
- “She’s got to get out of that office. She’s got to get out and we’ll put in someone who can help us. That’s all we want”
After the Cameroonian women witnessed that the Kenyans were able to successfully fight to get support from General Security when their consulate failed them, they approached General Security directly. General Security agreed to help the Cameroonian women but requested they provide them with the full list of names of the Cameroonian women who need the Emergency Travel Certificates from the consulate. The Honorary Consul refused.
The same General Security that returns women back to their abusers is more willing to help these workers than their own consulate. The Honorary Consul refused the offer, but insisted that they would have their papers and travel certificates by morning-time on Monday, September 21, 2020. When they arrived to the Consul on Monday morning, the Consul was closed and they were not even allowed inside. Their protest continues, and they are asking for you to share their message so that they can go HOME!