by adam rasmi in


(Courtesy Shutterstock/The Economist)

(Courtesy Shutterstock/The Economist)

WITH only the clothes on her back and a toothbrush in her pocket, Mariney, a Mexican-American NGO worker, flew from Beirut to Cyprus in April. It was a routine visa run made by many expatriates in Lebanon before the expiry of their two-month “tourist" visas, which are free on arrival. But when Mariney was clearing customs, security officials told her she would not be allowed to return to Lebanon.

Two months earlier Mariney’s employer, a Chicago-based human rights organisation, had started the paperwork to get Mariney a work visa. That led to months of back-and-forth exchanges with a disorganised and overwhelmed Lebanese bureaucracy, ending in nothing but flagging up Mariney to the authorities.

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