Evacuation of migrant workers from Lebanon resumes

GENEVA, Aug 7, 2006 (AFP) – Evacuations of thousands of Asian and Ethiopian migrant workers trapped in war-torn Lebanon have resumed, the International Organisation for Migration said Monday. About 750 people a day are expected to travel to Syria in coach convoys over the next five days, unless the security situation deteriorates further, the IOM said in a statement.

The evacuation of Bangladeshi, Ethiopian, Filipino, Nepali and Sri Lankan migrant workers was interrupted on Friday after Israeli air raids struck key routes leading out of Lebanon.

“There are several hundred women camped out in the compound of the Sri Lankan embassy in Beirut waiting for the next convoy,” said IOM spokesman Jean-Philippe Chauzy.

“For many who have been in Lebanon for years and may not have been paid, the prospect of returning home with nothing is very sad,” he added.

About 4,300 foreign nationals have returned to their home countries through the Syrian capital, Damascus, in the IOM operation since July 20. Twenty-two buses carrying 716 evacuees from the Philippines travelled to Syria on Saturday, followed by 252 Sri Lankans on Sunday.