The plight of migrants workers in Lebanon -- including many from the Philippines, Ethiopia, Bangladesh and Sierra Leone -- has come under increased scrutiny in recent years over cases of mistreatment.

The IOM said many respondents said they were still being subjected to abuse, including beatings, sexual harassment and denial of wages.

“As the economic situation continues to deteriorate and employment opportunities remain limited, migrants’ vulnerability to exploitation and abuse is likely to increase,” said Mathieu Luciano, the agency’s Lebanon chief.

The Lebanese currency has lost more than 85 per cent of its value against the dollar, in an economic crisis that has sent poverty levels above 50 per cent of the population.

The UN survey found that around half of respondents wanted to go home but were stuck in Lebanon.

Many are unable to pay for return flight and in some cases are not free to do so as a result of an infamous sponsorship system known as “Kafala” whereby they relinquish their passports to the agencies that find them work.

“Clearly, and based on this worrying assessment, there is an urgent need to rapidly scale up voluntary return assistance services in Lebanon,” said Luciano.

The IOM said it was seeking funding to offer more voluntary returns to the thousands of migrant workers stranded in crisis-hit Lebanon.

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