Madagascar maids escape Lebanon

Some of the maids arriving in Antananarivo airport
Image caption Some of the maids had fled their employers and then asked to be sent back home

A plane carrying 86 Madagascan domestic workers, who say they have suffered abuse in Lebanon, has arrived in the capital, Antananarivo.

Madagascar's government chartered the plane following the death of 17 maids in the past year, reports the AFP news agency.

"My boss used to hit me and didn't give me my salary. I'm very, very happy to be back home," said Leonie, 25.

Some 7,000 Madagascans are said to be working in Lebanon.

"There have been a lot of deaths," said Prime Minister Camille Vital.

The population ministry said it had received 600 requests to be sent home from maids who had fled their employers, AFP reports.

In 2009, Human Rights Watch called on the Lebanese government to investigate the deaths of foreign domestic workers in the country.

The previous year, it said that one foreign maid was dying each week.

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