Kenyans stranded in Saudi Arabia

Several Kenyans who run away from their Master after mistreatment are stranded in Saudi Arabia and are in distress after the Government ordered them to leave by 3rd July 2013. They claim that the Kenyan Embassy in Jeddah is not offering the help they need to return to Kenya. Diaspora Messenger correspondent in Nairobi,John mutongah who is in touch with one lady, a 30 year old  from Lower Kabete in Kiambu submitted the following raw interview. The names of the Kenyans are withheld for their own security.

Q
I’m in the office now. Are you around?
A
yes I am
Q
OK, let’s go.
Let me begin by asking u where u r n how u ended up there?
A
ok am in Jeddah Saudi Arabia a place call Almarwa I ended up here after running away from my sponsor due to mistreatments and salary denial
Q
So then Almarwa is a town or a camp or what?
A
It is an estate well known as bawadi with lots of Kenyans who are runner ways
Q
So Kenyans who run away from mistreatment come to Bawadi to stay there? They rent their houses or they r hosted by their compatriots? How do they earn their living?
A
not only Kenyans there lots of Africans then it’s not only bawadi there also places like karatina n more. They rent their houses at a cheaper cost. It’s not easy to rent a house alone you live like five or six people in one roomed house. Then you have to have a man with work permit called iqama because they don’t recognize women
earning a living before it was easy because you could get a sponsor but now high rate of prostitution n legal businesses
Q
this man iqama is any man from any country or he must be from that country? I guess u pay the man. Not so?
A
iqama is an id so you pay this person for using his id
when one arrives here your given that id showing your legally here
Q
I see. It’s a pathetic situation… So u say because of not having a sponsor getting a job is not easy meaning some ladies r compelled to use immoral ways to earn a living?
A
yaaa its very true
police here have contributed on this
Q
Now, u said that u have a deadline to leave. Who issued this deadline n why?
A
the king gave us a grace period of three months n this is coming to an end July 3rd
Q
Oh, I see. How many of u r there?
A
Because  thy are saying there are so many foreigners who are illegally working here n death cases are at rise
Q
So they think foreigners are causing deaths or what? Do you think this is the case?
A
as in we are many runner ways just in Jeddah but now I got four roommates
ok Saudis are hurtles thy provoke African n when Africans defend themselves thy either end up in jail or get killed
like last month 3 ago four Kenyans were beheaded
Q
Goodness! What did they do?
A
ok one lady had a fight with a Sudanese n stubbed him to death.Another lady and a man from one sponsor were falsely accused of killing a Saudi lady. Others sponsors lying and accusing us of sleeping with  bosses
Q
Holy Moses! Anyway, it appears there’s no justice 4 the small man there.
Let’s get back to the main thing. U said u have been frustrated by the Kenyan Mission there in UA for a bid to return. Can u explain further?
A
There many Kenyans in jail who will rot there because there is no one to fight for them
the main centre where Kenyan embassy is situated in Riyadh n me am in Jeddah its like Nairobi n Mombasa
Q
Yes, go on.
A
There is no consulate in Jeddah so we r stranded n going to Riyadh is expensive n risky without iqama.
In Riyadh, there are long lines and delays from people working there in a place called tarhil, its a small jail where pple are turned in waiting for deportation.Its now full no planes cheaper to take pple home here in Jeddah when you ask for assistance pple are asking for bribes
the embassy make promises that they will come to assist us but they never n we are running out of time
Q
Let me get u clearly. R u saying u must be taken to a holding centre – tarhil – b4 u r deported?
A
right now no because its full n there is outbreak of cholera
Q
must people marked 4 deportation be held in tarhil?
A
no it’s not a must
Q
U also said that when u ask people to assist u they ask 4 bribes. What sort of assistance is required and who r these people who ask 4 bribes?
A
some bribe at the entrance n within three days are home
some are conmen n others are people known to the embassy
assistance that we want we just need an exit form before you get it
Q
So it’s like the embassy officials uses some brokers or middlemen to exploit people?
U said u want an exit form? Where is it obtainable?
A
yes that’s what it is
it’s only the Kenyan embassy in Riyadh can give us
Q
So the main thing u need here is the exit form from the embassy?
A
yes n not just give us the form n keep quiet because what they are doing your told to go home thy will call you when they get a plane which are not available n your told to buy the ticket n that’s it
Q
So what other assistance is required from the embassy?
A
the tickets to some of us are too expensive they should look for cheap plane for us they call you n buy ticket on the spot n board
Q
How many of u r in this situation?
I mean how many Kenyans, if u know whose grace period is ending on July 3?
A
the ones I knew are bout ten but we are many outside there who have not raised their voices
we r over 1000
Q
So u think there could be tens, even hundreds, who r stranded n wd wish to be assisted to return to Kenya?
A
yes my dear
Q
Gosh! 1000 Kenyans suffering? Something should be done. I wonder how they survive under the conditions u described…
A
things are bad my dear
some are even committing suicide
Q
I’m really shocked. I wonder whether the govt know about this. Why do people live like this n they don’t raise a voice?
A
we have tried its never heard n the useless embassy hide a lot
even now when asked thy will deny
Q
Do u by any chance know the name of the ambassador?
A
no I don’t
Q
OK, I think I’ve gathered the most relevant details of your predicament 4 now. I’ll immediately start seeking for help from different quarters.
A
wow, thanks a lot dear n God will bless you

By John Mutongah [email protected]

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