Kenyan MPs demand end to abuse of Diaspora workers in the Middle East

Kenyan MPs demand end to abuse of Diaspora workers in the Middle East
Kenyan women who went missing in Saudi Arabia: Sunra, Ivy, Sarah and one unidentified-June 2016

Local recruitment agencies have been blamed for the suffering of Kenyan workers in the Middle East, with MPs revealing some of the firms are owned by senior government officials.

A report from the National Assembly’s Labour and Social Welfare Committee says 89 Kenyans have died in Saudi Arabia since 2019, some 200 held in deportation camps and six hospitalised.

The committee, led by chairperson Wachira Kabinga (Mwea) revealed the tribulations Kenyans go through in the Gulf, including sex slavery.

Speaking at a meeting in Mombasa on the welfare of Kenyan migrant domestic workers with Labour Cabinet Secretary Simon Chelugui and other stakeholders, lawmakers said they want Parliament to crack the whip on recruiters.

“Our girls cannot continue to be enslaved and suffer in the Middle East. Some are forced to become sex slaves. We met a Kenyan who has been hospitalised for six years. This is a serious issue,” Mr Kabinga said on Friday.

“There are 700 recruitment agencies and 500 brokers in Kenya and we also realised 90 percent of Kenyan girls (in the Middle East) have undergone sexual abuse.”

Kenya should not put the lives of its citizens at risk for the sake of foreign remittances, he said.

Three weeks ago, committee members visited some of the Middle East countries including Saudi Arabia, cited as leading in the mistreatment of Kenyan workers.

“This is a serious issue that, if handled well, can be beneficial to us in dealing with employment and earning a lot of foreign exchange. We have had sleepless nights because our people are calling every day narrating their problems. Nearly 90 percent of Kenyans have confessed going through sexual harassment by their employer,” Mr Kabinga said.

MPs Omboko Milemba (Emuhaya), Caleb Amisi (Saboti) and Wilson Sossion (nominated) called for the banning of the recruitment agencies.

Instead they urged the state to take charge of labour exports and ban private firms. This comes as it emerged that even some lawmakers own recruitment agencies.

Mr Sossion said Kenyan workers are being prioritised by Gulf employers because of their English proficiency.

“We are sleeping as a country and we have a huge unemployment crisis. We should work on the recruitment agencies. The government should invest in labour export and stop this modern-day slavery,” Mr Sossion said.

“What we have discovered is that most of the recruitment agencies are owned by individuals in the ministries and government offices.”

He said Kenya needs a policy to deal with the challenges affecting its recruitment agencies.

CS Chelugui acknowledged the problems, saying a government delegation will visit Saudi Arabia for bilateral talks to deal with harassment of Kenyan workers.

“We want the basic human rights of Kenyans to be protected. When we travel to Saudi we will know what killed our people, although we were told it was due to heart attacks and accidents, among other challenges, but when we travel we will talk to their labour ministry to unearth the matter,” said the CS.



Kenya suspends recruitment of workers to Middle East

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Kenyan woman trafficked to Saudi Arabia held by recruitment agency


Kenyan MPs demand end to abuse of Diaspora workers in the Middle East

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