For many of the 9,000 Indians living in Beirut, the explosions at the city’s port on August 4 were the last straw. The blasts, which killed 177 people, propelled the already precarious economy into further decline.

“We need help,” said 67-year-old Kathiresan Manickam, who arrived in the Mediterranean nation of Lebanon from Tamil Nadu to work in the construction sector 30 years ago.

Since October, the Lebanese pound has lot nearly 80% of its value. With the destruction caused by the blasts, the country’s GDP could contract by between 20% and 25%, economists predict. The crisis has been exacerbated by restrictions imposed to slow the spread of Covid-19 and citizens’ protests that led to the government to resign earlier this month.

As businesses close, many have been thrown out of work or haven’t been paid their pages. With inflation crossing 56%, many people are struggling to buy even the most basic of food items.

“We cannot expect this government to support us through this period,” said Manickam. “We need our Indian government to support us with repatriation. Not via another Middle Eastern country, but through direct response to our situation.”

Visa woes

Manickam said the he used to go home to Chennai every year or two. “But right now I can’t afford...

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