Lebanese priest helps secure release of 400 imprisoned Sri Lankans
Published: January 3, 2005
BEIRUT, Lebanon (CNS) -- Four hundred Sri Lankan women will be released from prison in Lebanon to return to their homeland, following a campaign by a Lebanese priest to secure their release. The majority of the woman were jailed because they did not have updated official working papers. The prisoners were the first to receive permission from the Lebanese government to be repatriated to their homeland after it was hit by tsunamis Dec. 26. The government then extended amnesty to all undocumented Sri Lankans in Lebanon, legally allowing them to return home until Jan. 20. Lebanon has 80,000 documented Sri Lankan workers, mostly women. The majority are under contract to work as house servants for three years. In addition, several thousand Sri Lankans in Lebanon are undocumented and therefore illegal in the country. Those who end up in jail often are there because their employer did not renew the required working papers. Franciscan Father Salim Rizcallah, who ministers to Lebanon's Afro-Asian migrant workers, took action shortly after the tsunami hit Sri Lanka.
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