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Street Children

Human Trafficking & Modern-day Slavery

Poverty drives the unsuspecting poor into the hands of traffickers

Published reports & articles from 2000 to 2025                     

Republic of Lebanon

Lebanon has a free-market economy and a strong laissez-faire commercial tradition. The government does not restrict foreign investment; however, the investment climate suffers from red tape, corruption, arbitrary licensing decisions, high taxes, tariffs, and fees, archaic legislation, and weak intellectual property rights. The Lebanese economy is service-oriented; main growth sectors include banking and tourism.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: Description: Description: Lebanon

Lebanon is a destination for Asian and African women trafficked for the purpose of domestic servitude, and for women from Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union trafficked for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation. Lebanese children are trafficked within the country for the purpose of forced labor (mostly street vending), and sexual exploitation. Women from Sri Lanka, the Philippines, and Ethiopia who travel to Lebanon legally to work as household servants often find themselves in conditions of forced labor through withholding of passports, non-payment of wages, restrictions on movement, threats, and physical or sexual assault. In some cases, employers have kept foreign domestics confined in houses for years.   - U.S. State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report, June, 2009   Check out a later country report here and possibly a full TIP Report here



CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Lebanon.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of Human Trafficking are of particular interest to you.  Would you like to write about Forced-Labor?  Debt Bondage? Prostitution? Forced Begging? Child Soldiers? Sale of Organs? etc.  On the other hand, you might choose to include precursors of trafficking such as poverty and hunger. There is a lot to the subject of Trafficking.  Scan other countries as well.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.


Check out some of the Resources for Teachers attached to this website.


Seeking Hemalatha - Letter from Lebanon - Sri Lankan domestic missing in Lebanon

Reem Haddad, New Internationalist, Nov, 2002

[accessed 17 August 2012]

'Her name is Hemalatha Mendis,' explained one official. 'We received these photographs this morning. We don't know for sure where she is but we believe she is being held at the agency which brought her to the country.  Hundreds of such agencies have sprung up in Lebanon over the past few years. They bring in women from Sri Lanka, the Philippines or Ethiopia to work as maids and are notorious for abusing the women.

Later that day I met with Hemalatha. Her employer had described her as 'a problem' and had wanted to return her to the agency. This prompted the agency owner to 'take out a big stick and start beating my back, my arms and my legs,' she said. 'I tried to cover my body but I couldn't. I was crying and my head began to throb with pain.  Once finished, the owner turned to the employer and said: 'If you have any more problems with her just bring her to me.'


*** ARCHIVES ***

2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Lebanon

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 30 March 2021

[accessed 14 June 2021]


Children, foreign workers employed as domestic workers, and other foreign workers sometimes worked under forced labor conditions. The law criminalizes trafficking and provides protection for domestic workers against forced labor, but domestic work is excluded from legal protection and is therefore vulnerable to exploitation. In violation of the law, employment agencies and employers routinely withheld foreign workers’ passports, especially in the cases of domestic workers, sometimes for years. According to NGOs assisting migrant workers, in some instances employers withheld salaries for the duration of the contract, which was usually two years.


Child labor occurred, including in its worst forms. While up-to-date statistics on child labor were unavailable, anecdotal evidence and the accounts of NGOs suggested the number of child workers may have risen during the year and that more children worked in the informal sector. UNHCR noted that commercial sexual exploitation of refugee children continued to occur.

Child labor, including among refugee children, was predominantly concentrated in the informal sector, including in small family enterprises, mechanical workshops, carpentry, construction, manufacturing, industrial sites, welding, agriculture, and fisheries. UN agencies and NGOs reported that Syrian refugee children were vulnerable to child labor and exploitation. According to the ILO, child labor rates have at least doubled since the Syrian refugee influx. The ILO reported that instances of child labor strongly correlated with a Syrian refugee presence. The ILO equally highlighted that the majority of Syrian children involved in the worst forms of child labor–especially forced labor–worked primarily in agriculture in the Bekaa and Akkar regions and on the streets of major urban areas (Beirut and Tripoli). Anecdotal evidence also indicated child labor was prevalent within Palestinian refugee camps.

Freedom House Country Report

2020 Edition

[accessed 1 May 2020]


Refugees and migrant workers are especially vulnerable to exploitative working conditions and sex trafficking. The authorities do not effectively enforce laws against child labor, which is common among Syrian refugees, rural Lebanese, and segments of the urban poor.

Domestic workers and migrant workers who work under the kafala system suffer from endemic economic exploitation, with employers often withholding wages. Employers are favored in legal cases involving migrant workers, discouraging them from reporting this abuse.

2017 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

Office of Child Labor, Forced Labor, and Human Trafficking, Bureau of International Labor Affairs, US Dept of Labor, 2018

[accessed 18 April 2019]

[accessed 1 May 2020]

Note:: Also check out this country’s report in the more recent edition DOL Worst Forms of Child Labor

[page 597]

Child labor has increased, and its conditions have worsened since the influx of Syrian refugees into Lebanon, affecting Lebanese and Syrian children. (38; 39; 16) As of January 2018, just under one million Syrian refugees in Lebanon were registered with UNHCR, and more than half of them were children. (40) Child labor is also prevalent in other refugee communities in Lebanon, including the Palestinian and Iraqi communities. (41; 16)

There are instances of children being subjected to forced begging and commercial sexual exploitation, sometimes as a result of human trafficking. (5) In particular, Syrian girls are trafficked into Lebanon for commercial sexual exploitation under the guise of marriage. (18; 5) Some boys are also subjected to commercial sexual exploitation, particularly Kurdish boys from Syria and boys who work. (18; 42) Working on the streets is especially common among refugee children from Syria, including Palestinians from Syria. (24)

Syrian children are also subjected to forced labor in agriculture. (4; 41; 16) Some Syrian refugee children, with their families, are kept in bonded labor in agriculture in the Bekaa Valley to pay for makeshift dwellings provided by landowners. (3; 4; 38; 5) In 2017, the Lebanese army evicted approximately 10,000 Syrian refugees from their informal dwellings in Bekaa, interrupting children’s schooling and making them more vulnerable to child labor. (43; 44; 45)

UNICEF reported that ISIS and Al Nusra recruited and used boys and girls in Lebanon, including in Palestinian refugee camps. (16) Media reported that Hizballah also recruited children to engage in combat in Syria. (36) Children participated in combat, armed patrols, military parades, and logistical support of armed leaders within Lebanon or were trafficked to Syria for the same purposes. (16).

LEBANON: Sex trafficking remains a hidden crime

Raed Rafei in Beirut, Los Angeles Times, October 22, 2008

[accessed 17 February 2011]

They are lured into Lebanon to work as models, masseuses or dancers in nightclubs. But some of these young Eastern European women, especially from Moldova, are sold by criminal networks to brothels, where they are forced to work as prostitutes.

Victims are afraid to speak out, dreading retribution or stigmatization. Many simply do not know their rights. Silence perpetuates the cycle of exploitation.

Expert on Trafficking in Persons Ends Visit to Lebanon

Sigma Huda, Special Rapporteur of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights on trafficking in persons, especially women and children, statement to media, September 15, 2005

[accessed 17 February 2011]

[accessed 4 February 2018]

In the course of my mission, I have found that a significant number of human beings, women in the majority, are trafficked into and within Lebanon. Unfortunately, their plight seems to remain unknown to significant parts of Lebanese society, perhaps because the victims tend to be foreign nationals or are considered to be of low social status. Lebanon's victims of trafficking are often invisible victims because they suffer in places that remain hidden to the public eye such as private homes or hotel rooms.

In Contempt of Fate - From Sri Lanka to Lebanon: Sold into Slavery

Beatrice Fernando,, July 19, 2005

[accessed 17 February 2011]

When Beatrice Fernando was 23 years old, she contracted with an agency to work in Lebanon as a housemaid, promised decent wages to provide for her son and family in Sri Lanka. Upon arriving in Lebanon, Beatrice was sold to a wealthy Beirut woman who beat, starved, and verbally abused her. After months of back-breaking labor and endless torture, Beatrice escaped by the only means available - she jumped off the fourth story balcony of her ritzy apartment.

FI Organises Grassroots Human Trafficking and Forced Labour Workshop

Franciscans International, Geneva, 25 June 2004

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

Sr. Herminia Cruz, FMM, a Philippine sister, has lived and worked in the Middle East for 24 years. In Lebanon, like other countries who “host” trafficked persons, human rights violations are common occurrences. Victims frequently experience sexual and physical abuse, confiscation of their identity documents and confinement.  “Migrant workers are crying for help; I hope that I can give them justice through their rights being respected. We need to coordinate more with NGOs, especially FI,” the Franciscan sister reflected.

Work Worries - Women going abroad to work is leading to more human trafficking

Lanka Business Online, 04 Mar 2005

[accessed 17 February 2011]

[accessed 20 September 2016]

Sri Lankan women are trafficked to Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Qatar, mainly as sex workers or for forced labor.

Human Rights Overview

Human Rights Watch

[accessed 17 February 2011]


Freedom House Country Report

2018 Edition

[accessed 1 May 2020]


Refugees and migrant workers are especially vulnerable to exploitative working conditions and sex trafficking. The authorities do not effectively enforce laws against child labor, which is increasingly common among Syrian refugees.

Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 9 February 2020]

TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS – The country was a destination for East European and Russian women, contracted as dancers in adult clubs. Most of these women engaged in voluntary illegal prostitution and were at risk as targets of abuse.

The country was also a destination for women from Africa and Asia, usually contracted as household workers. Women are required by law to have good faith work contracts and sponsors, but often found themselves in coercive work situations with little practical legal recourse

Restrictions of movement and withholding of passports were common practice. A small number of exploited foreign workers won cases against their employers. Non-judicial action resolved the majority of these cases. As a result of that process, workers frequently were repatriated without further judicial action. A few cases were referred to the judiciary for further action, although the government took minimal steps to prosecute traffickers.

The Department of Labor’s 2004 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

U.S. Dept of Labor Bureau of International Labor Affairs, 2005

[accessed 17 February 2011]

Note:: Also check out this country’s report in the more recent edition DOL Worst Forms of Child Labor

INCIDENCE AND NATURE OF CHILD LABOR - There have been reported cases of child prostitution and other situations that amount to forced labor.  Although Lebanon is a destination country for women trafficked from Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union for the purposes of involuntary domestic servitude and prostitution, there are no official government reports of child trafficking in the country.

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