Kenya’s Embassy in Kuwait has defended the Honorary Consulate in Lebanon, saying he had informed them he had done his best in serving Kenyans in Beirut.
The embassy, which is headed by Ambassador Halima Mohamud, said Honorary Consul Sayed Chalouhi also denied any acts of extortion, stating that he had documentary evidence for all financial transactions done with Kenyans.
Kenya’s Honorary Consul in Lebanon Sayed Chalouhi and his assistant, Kassem Jaber, both Lebanese nationals, have been accused of harassing and abusing Kenyan nationals in Beirut.
A CNN report ran on Tuesday, July 28, painted a picture of helpless, beaten and hungry Kenyan domestic workers in Lebanon, who have been abused and physically assaulted by the very officers appointed by the Kenyan government to protect its nationals.
But the Kenyan mission, which is also accredited to Lebanon, said the consul clarified that Gloria, the woman named in the report, became aggressive when she found out that her deposit of $1,500 was spent in the facilitation of her travel.
“The Consulate officials confirmed a deposit of $1,500 by Gloria, which was thereafter utilized to pay immigration authorities for the requisite travel clearance as well as air ticket upon her own request. Copies of the receipts to this transaction are available at the Consulate,” the embassy said in a statement on July 29.
But in her narration to CNN, Gloria said she paid the honorary consul $1,500 saved up over five years labouring as a domestic worker, to help her return to Kenya but he was asking for more money.
CNN said it saw receipts in the names of Kenyan women for money they say was paid to the consulate. Gloria’s $1,500 sum was paid in two instalments in September 2019, according to the receipts, two months before the confrontation at the consulate.
She braced herself to confront him. When she went to the consulate to ask for her cash, the consul allegedly slapped her, followed by a struggle, between her and Chalouhi.
“They started pushing me and beating me and I also pushed them,” Gloria told her cousin in the immediate aftermath. “They called me a whore. They cursed my sister and they told me to eat sh*t.”
A glass door panel shattered from the impact of her body hitting it and her face was soaked after the consul poured water from a plastic cup on her, she told CNN.
Kenyans women working in Lebanon accuse the consul of regularly overcharging them for essential consular fees, claims the consul assistant Jaber denied.
Kenya’s embassy says some undocumented Kenyans are hesitant to visit the consulate for fear of being arrested by police and immigration officials.
“The embassy has accorded priority to addressing the challenges faced by members of the Kenyan community in Lebanon given that the welfare of the Diaspora forms a critical component of the embassy’s work,” the statement said.
The embassy, however, noted that to get to the bottom of the allegations, a team will travel to Beirut as soon as Covid-19 lockdown on travel eases.