Blast kills 8 children collecting scrap metal in Sudan

Central Committee of Sudan Doctors are part of the opposition movement that has been protesting against President Omar Al-Bashir's rule. (AFP/File)
Updated 24 March 2019
0

Blast kills 8 children collecting scrap metal in Sudan

  • Sudanese officials spoke on condition of anonymity
  • Doctors say seven of the children died at the scene

CAIRO: Sudanese officials say eight children have been killed in an explosion near a military facility where they were searching for scrap metal to resell.
The officials say the explosion happened Saturday in Omdurman, the twin city of the capital, Khartoum. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief reporters.
The Central Committee of Sudan Doctors, an independent professional union, says seven children died at the scene and the eighth succumbed to wounds in a hospital.
The committee is part of an umbrella opposition movement that has been organizing street protests since December calling on President Omar Al-Bashir to resign. A security crackdown has killed dozens of people.


Amnesty urges Lebanon to help end domestic worker abuse

Updated 11 sec ago
0

Amnesty urges Lebanon to help end domestic worker abuse

  • Ethiopia and the Philippines have banned their citizens from domestic work in Lebanon, but still their citizens find ways to come
BEIRUT: Amnesty International on Wednesday urged Lebanon to end what it described as an “inherently abusive” migration sponsorship system governing the lives of tens of thousands of foreigners working in private homes.
Domestic workers in Lebanon are excluded from the labor law, and instead obtain legal residency though their employers’ sponsorship under the so-called “kafala” system.
But activists say this leaves the maids, nannies and carers at the mercy of their employers and unable to leave without their permission, including in numerous documented cases of abuse.
“Amnesty International is calling on the Lebanese authorities to end the kafala system and extend labor protections to migrant domestic workers,” the London-based rights group said.
“The Lebanese parliament should amend the labor law to include domestic workers under its protection,” including to allow them to join unions, the group said.
Lebanon hosts more than 250,000 registered domestic workers from countries in Africa and Asia, the vast majority of them women.
In a report released Wednesday titled “Their house is my prison,” Amnesty surveyed 32 domestic workers employed mostly in and around Beirut, revealing “alarming patterns of abuse.”
Among them, 10 women said they were not allowed to leave their employer’s house, with some saying they were locked in.
Twenty-seven said their employers had confiscated their passports.
Many worked overtime, 14 were not allowed a single day off each week, and several had their monthly salaries revoked or decreased, despite it being a breach of their contracts.
The labor ministry introduced a standard contract for domestic workers in 2009, but the forms are often written in Arabic, a language they cannot read.
The government in late 2018 said it had translated the contracts into several other languages.
Amnesty registered eight cases of forced labor and four of human trafficking, the report said.
Six reported severe physical abuse, while almost all had been subjected to humiliating treatment and several were deprived of food.
“Sometimes I would get so hungry... I used to mix water with sugar when I was hungry and drink it,” one worker said.
With the abuse taking a toll on their mental health, six said they had contemplated or attempted suicide.
Only four of those interviewed had private rooms, while the rest were relegated to living rooms, storage rooms, kitchens or balconies.
“There is a man in the house who can enter the living room any time he wants,” said one worker who was forced to sleep in the living room.
Activists accuse the Lebanese authorities of being lax in bringing abusive employers to account.
Ethiopia and the Philippines have banned their citizens from domestic work in Lebanon, but still their citizens find ways to come.
In 2008, Human Rights Watch found that migrant domestic workers in Lebanon were dying at a rate of more than one per week from suicide or in failed escapes.
Many other countries in the Arab world also follow the “kafala” system for household workers.