22 June 2012

Kenya: Govt Stops Export of Labour to Middle East

Photo: Capital FM
Middle East Map

Nairobi — The government on Friday temporarily suspended recruitment and export of Kenyan domestic workers to Middle East countries.

In a statement the Political and Diplomatic Secretary in the Foreign Affairs Ministry Patrick Wamoto said the government will soon unveil a mechanism that will require all recruitment agencies to be vetted.

"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs wishes to inform that the Government has temporarily suspended recruitment and export of domestic workers (Housekeepers/maids) to Middle East Countries with immediate effect," he said.

He further said recruiting agencies will be compelled to sign labour agreements to ensure Kenyans taking up jobs are not mistreated or they are not short-changed for the contracts agreed upon.

Wamoto expressed worries that Kenyans were being lured with promises of good jobs only to end up as slaves. He said the government was quite concerned with the trend. "The Government has noted with concern, the increasing number of Kenyan citizens who have sought employment in the Middle East as domestic workers (Housekeepers/maids) and ended up in distress."

His remarks come after increasing cases of Kenyans being brutally killed in Middle East while others come back home to report that they were mistreated by their employers.

Last month the Coast-based Muslims for Human Rights (Muhuri), estimated that there are more than 30,000 Kenyans working as domestic workers in the Middle East but termed it as human trafficking.

The report indicated that many Kenyans had died in the Middle East in search of better jobs.

The Central Organisation of Trade Unions has in the past also asked the government to take action to save young Kenyans especially women who are offered jobs and end up as sex slaves.

Other times they are not paid for their services.

Efforts to crack down on people involved in the illegal recruitment of Kenyans to such jobs have in the past not succeeded since the number of Kenyans complaining of harassment in Middle East has been increasing.

The government's move on Friday, if successful, will save many Kenyans lined up to take up fake jobs in the Middle East and also salvage those already suffering in the hands of unscrupulous employers.

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