Trafficking in Persons: Agents invest over $1,000 to recruit each Gambian girl

By Sanna Camara

An official of a suspected human trafficking agency in Beirut has said that an initial investment of over $1,000 is spent on each girl recruited to work as a domestic servant in Lebanon.

The official, who maintained he is engaging in a legitimate business according to laws of Lebanon, explained that the investment is usually meant “to facilitate their travel and contractual paper works.”

Visa Lebanon 1
Lebanese visa issued to Gambian girls to work as domestic servnts in Lebanon

He breaks down incurred costs in the recruitment as the air ticket costing $700, insurance $100, Ministry of Labour approval $200, public notary stamps $40, visa fees $50, transportation costs while processing the paper works  in the Gambia $30 and passport $80.

$350 as service charges per servant

“So to acquire a worker from The Gambia, a sponsor (employer or family) pays initial cost of $1400 to the recruitment agency,” said the agent, whose identity, as well as the names of over a dozen trafficking victims interviewed from both Lebanon and Gambia, are being withheld on Gambia Beat blog’s editorial grounds.

“Our benefit is $350 as service charges per servant we successfully deliver in Lebanon,” the agent explained.

“I pay [for] everything without any down payment [from the sponsor] until the servant arrives here….,” said the agent.

Vaccination card
Vaccination cards issued by public health authorities in Banjul to girls seeking work in Lebanon

So in a situation where the girl is not allowed into the country as a result of not meeting the requirements, the Immigration authorities return them back. This according to te agent, “incurs loss” for the agent.

“These kinds of contracts give me a huge loss… I have returned more than 15 girls because they came here with serious sicknesses like tuberculosis and HIV.

There are others too who broke the contracts they signed with their sponsors. In such situations, the agency takes responsibility as there are penalties in the form of fines for them to pay per contract.

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