MONROVIA, Liberia (AP) — Protesters gathered Tuesday in front of the U.S. Embassy in Liberia’s capital, asking the American government to put pressure on Liberian officials to bring back some 60 Liberian young women allegedly trafficked into Lebanon between 2011 and 2012.
The women, between the ages of 22 and 34, were reportedly lured to Lebanon, believing they were going to get a good-paying jobs, but ended up being housemaids and “slaves” for Lebanese landlords, the protesters said.
“It is our hope that the government of the great United States of America will act on this petition and save our girls from the nightmare they are going through in Lebanon,” the statement said.
U.S. Embassy Public Affairs director Sally Hodgson said the embassy received the petition and was already engaged with the Liberian authorities.
Liberia’s government has said that some of the girls have been brought home.
The president of the Lebanese community in Liberia, Ezzat Eid, told The Associated Press Tuesday that 14 of the more than 60 Liberian girls in Lebanon had said they wanted to return, “and all of them have now returned.” Eid said there were more than 200 Liberians in Lebanon doing different jobs including housekeeping.
Gender, Children and Social Protection Minister Julia Duncan Cassell said the 14 girls who have been evacuated had been in accessible places in the Lebanese capital, Beirut. She told the AP that efforts were still being made with the help of the International Organization for Migration to locate and repatriate some of the girls now in remote places of Lebanon and across the border in Syria.
“The ones that were really in danger — that really wanted to come — were the ones that we brought,” she said, adding there are many Liberians in Lebanon. Requests then came from others also wanting to return, she said.