17 March 2017

Zimbabwe: 60 Trafficking Victims Stuck in Middle East

About 60 Zimbabwean women, who are victims of human trafficking, are stuck in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said.

Government has rescued about 161 women, who were lured to Kuwait under the pretext of business and job opportunities since last year.

Responding to a motion on a bilateral visit to Kuwait by MPS in Parliament on Tuesday, Foreign Affairs Deputy Minister Cde Edgar Mbwembwe said there were still more women who needed to be brought back home.

"Our embassy in Kuwait estimates that approximately 50 Zimbabwean women are still in Kuwait, while about 10 could be in Saudi Arabia," he said.

"Government will continue to assist all our nationals who wish to return home."

Cde Mbwembwe said the Kuwait Government had been helpful in the repatriation exercise and arrest of kingpins of the human trafficking syndicate.

"A request was made for the Kuwaitis to arrest and deport Zimbabwean criminals who have been identified as members of the criminal syndicates involved in the trafficking of nationals to the State of Kuwait," he said.

"Consequently, three Zimbabwean women were arrested and repatriated.

"They have since appeared in court. Another Zimbabwean female kingpin in the trafficking is still at large and is thought to be outside Kuwait."

Cde Mbwembwe said the Kuwait Government had been assisting the embassy to provide food and shelter to Zimbabweans who wished to return home.

He said Cabinet made a number of decisions, among them the creation of a fund to assist the victims and making a request to the Government of Kuwait to stop issuing Article 20 visas to Zimbabwean nationals.

The Article 20 visas are issued to a female full time employee to work as a domestic worker.

Cde Mbwembwe said the Ministry of Home Affairs was seized with human trafficking investigations.

"According to Kuwait authorities, around 200 Article 20 visas were issued since September 2015," he said.

"Only 15 of those were issued through the Kuwait Embassy in Harare.

"The rest were processed by criminal syndicates."

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