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Migrant Workers’ Rights in Lebanon and Jordan

The Middle East and North Africa region hosts some of the highest concentrations of migrant workers in the world. As numerous reports by international bodies and human rights organizations attest, many of these migrants are highly vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. The most widespread problems include withholding of wages, confiscation of passports, and restrictions on movement and communication. Other common problems include physical, verbal, and sexual abuse and arbitrary detention. When such abuses occur, most migrants lack avenues for legal redress.

Positive steps have been taken by several governments in the region to improve the regulatory framework governing the treatment of migrant workers, but a large gap exists between legislative reform and efficient implementation. More concrete action is necessary to ensure that their rights are adequately protected in practice.

With this in mind, the OSI Middle East and North Africa Initiative organized a regional meeting from May 20-21, 2009, at the Dead Sea, bringing together representatives from 20 civil society organizations, primarily from Lebanon and Jordan, to collectively strategize ways to protect migrants' rights. Participants shared their experiences, discussed the main obstacles to their work, and explored ideas for new interventions.

In order to protect migrant workers' rights, legal reform and effective implementation of existing laws and policies are essential. Legal assistance for migrants is also needed. Participants also highlighted the need to make better use of the media to provide migrants with essential information and engage the public more productively on migrants’ rights.

This report summarizes these discussions and brings together key recommendations.

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