Lebanese expats launch job-creation initiative

Baladi began connecting with socially engaged Lebanese organizers from around the world. (AFP)
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Updated 10 April 2020

Lebanese expats launch job-creation initiative

  • Baladi began connecting with socially engaged Lebanese organizers from around the world

DUBAI: A team of young Lebanese expatriates and locals is hoping to turn the tide on the country’s unemployment crisis with the launch of an ambitious online job-creation initiative.
Lebanon’s recent economic woes had already contributed to a significant rise in the number of people out of work before the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak delivered another hefty blow to its fragile employment market.
But the 28 team members behind JobsForLebanon.com aim to share the best of their expertise to build positive change and help potential jobseekers find work in Lebanon.
They are calling upon the diaspora of 16 million Lebanese to hire skilled talent on a freelance basis in the country.
The catalyst for the project was the anti-government protests that started in Lebanon in October last year.
Roy Baladi, 36, a San Francisco-based computer scientist who specializes in recruitment technology, said: “It started with a phone call from a childhood friend of mine. That was in December, when the hopes of the revolution were high, and everybody was excited.
“She (Baladi’s friend) had just returned from maternity leave and had 10-12 messages and emails from highly educated people, who were looking for a job or money. That rang an alarm bell in my mind.

SPEEDREAD

The 28 team members behind JobsForLebanon.com aim to share the best of their expertise to build positive change and help potential jobseekers find work in Lebanon.

“The (Lebanese) Ministry of Finance showed that 45 percent of the population makes less than 5 million liras a year, that’s $3,300 a year. Half the population is making less than 250 bucks a month – who can live on that? You can’t pay for tuition, gasoline, and groceries. It’s beyond unemployment – it’s no jobs and severe levels of poverty.”
Baladi began connecting with socially engaged Lebanese organizers from around the world, such as Expats United, in a bid to get a campaign going and when he returned to Lebanon for Christmas his New York-based brother, Edwin Baladi, 34, helped with others to bring JobsForLebanon to life.
The team launched its website last month and visitors can view a video of members of the Lebanese international community encouraging involvement in the jobs initiative with the message, “together, we can unleash the power of the Lebanese community. No matter where we are, together we can keep the economy alive.”
Powered by SmartRecruiters – a major recruiting software platform – the website allows employers to post job offerings and candidates to apply for them. Already the site has had visits from users in 131 countries, more than 100 jobs have been posted, and at least 1,000 candidates have registered. Five hires have been confirmed.
The team plans to grow its partnerships and collaborate with embassies to promote the initiative. Australia and the Netherlands are also among countries looking to launch similar hiring e-platforms based on the JobsForLebanon model.
 


Lebanese MPs fail to reach agreement on draft amnesty law

Updated 29 May 2020

Lebanese MPs fail to reach agreement on draft amnesty law

  • The Free Patriotic Movement tried to amend the law by excluding “perpetrators of crimes against public funds and terrorist crimes” from the amnesty

BEIRUT: The Lebanese Parliament on Thursday failed to approve a draft law on general amnesty, after tensions rose during a vote and the Future Movement, led by former prime minister Saad Hariri, walked out of the legislative session.

“They want to bring us back to square one,” he said. “Every party has its own arguments, as if they want to score points.”

The Free Patriotic Movement tried to amend the law by excluding “perpetrators of crimes against public funds and terrorist crimes” from the amnesty. Minister of Justice Marie Claude Najm, who is affiliated with the FPM, asked for “amendments to the draft law so that it does not include those accused of tax evasion and violating maritime property.”

The draft law was referred to the parliament despite disagreements between parliamentary committees over the basic issue of who should and should not be included in the amnesty. The former government, led by Hariri, proposed a general amnesty law before it resigned last October in the face of mounting pressure resulting from public protests.

There were a number of protests during the legislative session, some opposing the adoption of the law entirely, while others were directed at specific provisions within it.

The draft law includes an amnesty for about 1,200 Sunni convicts, 700 of whom are Lebanese. Some are accused of killing soldiers in the Lebanese Army, possessing, transporting or using explosives, kidnap and participating in bombings.

It was also covers about 6,000 Lebanese Christians, most of whom fled to Israel following the withdrawal of occupying Israeli soldiers from southern Lebanon in 2000, as well as nearly 30,000 people from the Bekaa region, the majority of whom are from the Shiite community and wanted for drug trafficking, drug abuse, murder, kidnap, robbery and other crimes.

Hezbollah appeared to agree to a pardon for entering Israel, but object to a pardon for anyone who worked or communicated with the enemy or acquired Israeli citizenship.

Before the session, the Lebanese Order of Physicians highlighted overcrowding in Lebanese prisons, and this health risk this poses during COVID-19 pandemic.

“There are 20 prisons for men, four for women and one juvenile prison holding a total of 8,300 inmates, 57 percent of whom are in the Roumieh Central Prison,” the LOP said. It added that 57 percent of prisoners are Lebanese and 23 percent are Syrian, one third have been convicted while the rest are awaiting trial, and the overcrowding is so bad each prisoner has the equivalent of only one square meter of space. The organization described the situation as “a time bomb that must be avoided.”

In other business during the session, as part of anticorruption reforms required as a condition for receiving international economic aid, the Parliament approved a law to increase transparency in the banking sector, with responsibility for this resting with the Investigation Authority of the Lebanese Central Bank and the Anti-Corruption Commission.

It also endorsed a draft law to create a mechanism for top-level appointments in public administrations, centers and institutions. An amendment was added to prevent ministers from changing or adding candidates for the position of director general. The FPM opposed this, while Hezbollah and the Lebanese Forces voted in favor. Hariri accused the FPM of having a “desire to possess the entire country.”

MPs rejected a draft law to allow Lebanon to join the International Organization for Migration because, said MP Gebran Bassil, “it’s unconstitutional and facilitates the accession, integration and settlement process.” Lebanon hosts about 200,000 Palestinian and a million Syrian refugees.

The session sparked a wave of street protests. Some of them, led by the Syrian Social Nationalist Party and the Lebanese Communist Party, opposed the approval of a general amnesty that includes those who fled to Israel.

Protesters burned the Israeli flag in Sidon in protest against a law that “affects Israeli agents who sold their land, fought their people, and plotted against them.” They set up a symbolic gallows on which they wrote: “This is the fate of Zionist agents who fled execution.”

Others, including the families of Muslim detainees, staged demonstrations in support of the amnesty.