This is a conversation with Zecharias Zelalem. He’s an Ethiopian journalist with Addis Standard as well as a freelance journalist focusing on the Horn of Africa region. More recently, Zelalem has also been investigating widespread abuses of Ethiopian migrant domestic workers in the Middle East, and in particular Lebanon.
This is why I wanted to have this conversation with Zecharias. The conversation around the abusive Kafala system in Lebanon rarely includes the stories of the people who leave their homes to go work in a stranger’s house in another country. This episode is the third on the Kafala system in Lebanon focusing on Ethiopian migrant domestic workers, who constitute the majority of those working in Lebanon.
Migrant Domestic Workers are, alongside the rest of the labor force, the primary force keeping Lebanon running. And yet, despite their central role, they are regularly ignored alongside the widespread abuses affecting them.
In a previous episode, I spoke with Banchi Yimer, founder of Egna Legna who define themselves as “community-based feminist activists working on migrant domestic workers’ issues and general women’s issues in Lebanon and Ethiopia.” You can find it here.
And in an earlier episode I spoke with Sami, a Beirut-based Ethiopian activist with, Mesewat, a solidarity network that supports migrant workers in Lebanon and the Middle East, and Ali, an activist with the Anti-Racism Movement. It was recorded at one of the Migrant Community Centers in Beirut. You can find it here.
You can find these episodes on your podcast app or on the website – they are at number 2 and 5.
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Zecharias Zelalem’s investigations:
- Special Edition: Ethio-Lebanese corpse disposal inc: A bilateral effort to cover-up Ethiopian deaths in Lebanon
- In-depth Analysis: Amidst fear of #COVID19 Ethiopian domestic workers coerced into making heavy payments to flee Lebanon
- Feature: Addressing Ethiopians in Lebanon a Foreign Ministry official threatens to sue Addis Standard
- In-depth analysis: Seven Ethiopians die in Lebanon as new Ethiopian Consulate policy abandons citizens to their fate