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Page last updated at 19:09 GMT, Friday, 12 December 2008

Lebanon seeks fresh maid influx

Filipino maids in Beirut
Many Filipino maids continue to work in Lebanon despite the travel ban

Lebanon has urged the Philippines to lift a travel ban to the country to help relieve a shortage of maids.

The Lebanese consul in Manila said normality had returned since the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah when the Philippine travel ban was imposed.

Tens of thousands of Philippine domestic helpers continue to work in Lebanon in defiance of the ban.

The consul, Joseph Assad, insisted the country was safe and labour market could absorb still more workers.

Nearly 10% of the Philippines' population works abroad - a vital source of remittances for the Philippine economy.

Human rights campaigners say the danger to maids in Lebanon is not so much political conflict but from abuse.

Human Rights Watch says most of Lebanon's domestic workers, who originate primarily from Sri Lanka, the Philippines, and Ethiopia, remain unprotected by labour laws and are subject to exploitation and frequent abuse by employers and agencies.

At least 95 foreign maids are reported to have died in Lebanon since January 2007.

Forty deaths were classified by embassies as suicides and 24 were caused by falls from high buildings.

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