A high-power Liberian delegation leaves the country Thursday for Lebanon in an effort to fast track the return of seven Liberian girls whose search for greener pastures resulted to dehumanizing treatment they have reportedly endured in that country.
The delegation, headed by Labor Minister Neto Zarzar Lighe includes Jeddi Aman, Assistant Minister for Legal Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization (BIN) Commissioner Lemuel Reeves and Joseph Flomo, (105 Liberia National Police.)
The mandate of the delegation, according to Minister Lighe is to ensure that the Liberians return home peacefully while arrangements for the possible return of other Liberians believed to be facing similar situations in Lebanon, are rescued immediately.
Minister Lighe disclosed that the Liberian government is closely working with Interpol and Beirut to search for and identify other Liberians living under adverse conditions and to evacuate them in the soonest possible time.
“The intent of this trip is to get first hand information about our citizens living in Lebanon and address their condition,” Lighe told the Daily Observer.
He noted that it is important to be on the ground and ask the right people the right questions other than sitting in Monrovia and holding telephone conversations with people in Beirut.
Lighe said all efforts and procedures have been put into place to ensure that the girls return home to the safety of their families.
He said, “We have done everything possible to make sure that these girls get their passports and return home to Liberia. The girls’ return will be made public and things are on course.”
The girls are Rema Nyepan, Ayres M. Jasper, Bernice Gbar, Muffitte N. Panma, Grace K. David, Emma T. Swaber and Patience King. Reports have indicated that they were abused by their hosts, claiming thousands of dollars spent to get them to Lebanon.
According to Minister Lighe, who also chairs the National Taskforce on Anti-Human Trafficking in Liberia, the girls agreed to leave Liberia after being deceived that they would have a better life in Lebanon.
Minister Lighe explained that, “Liberia is one of the poorest countries in the world and promise of good life elsewhere attracts its citizens.”
The seven Liberian girls were reported to have been used as housekeepers earning little for themselves.
The Minister described the seizing of the seven girls’ passports by their Lebanese hosts, and demanding over US$4,000 from each of them as payment for their air fares, as an unfortunate act.
The minister said through the help of international partners and Interpol, the Liberian government has so far succeeded in rescuing the girls, and they will be coming home soon, though he could state how soon.
Minister Lighe said some of the perpetrators of the girls’ trip to Lebanon have been arrested by the Liberia National Police, in collaboration with the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization and are awaiting prosecution by the Justice Ministry.