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CS wants Kenyans banned from Middle East domestic workers jobs

25 June 2015, 14:29 Samuel Kisika

Nairobi - Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary, Amina Mohammed wants total ban on ferrying of Kenyans to work as domestic workers in Middle East countries.

Mohammed said a Task Force she commissioned to look into issues affecting Kenyans working in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) revealed that Kenyans suffer as “slaves”.

Mohammed told the Senate committee on Foreign Affairs that despite a ban on exportation of domestic laborers to the Middle East, several Kenyans were still being smuggled and recruited to work in hardship areas.

She said the government had closed all recruitment agencies in Kenya but young women were being lured to work in Saudi Arabia and mistreated amid earning nothing or peanuts.

“This is a very emotive issue because despite a ban on recruitment of domestic workers, we are intercepting more than 1 000 young Kenyans who are signing contracts without interpretation to go and work in the Middle East,” said Mohammed.

Read Also: UAE recruitment agencies ask govt to lift ban

However, Mohammed pointed out that the Task Force has until July this year to present its report before the ministry, working jointly with that of Labour and Interior in engaging stakeholders on the export of domestic workers to the Middle East.

In the recommendations, Mohammed said the ministry will include the requirements for employers who confiscate passports from workers to surrender them to Kenyan embassies.

“I will not allow export of domestic workers to Saudi Arabia. I won’t allow my child or any other child to go and work in Saudi Arabia. We have banned the export of domestic workers completely,” she said.

She told the committee chaired by nominated Senator Fatuma Dullo that the ministry is looking for conducive job markets abroad where it can send young people to work in supermarkets, malls and security agencies instead of domestic work.

“We meet Kenyans in malls, hotels and supermarkets abroad where their pay is descent and their passports are not confiscated. There is no value added for domestic workers leaving this country except for recruiting agents which benefit,” said Mohammed.

She added that 30 000 Kenyans live and work in Saudi Arabia out of which 17 000 are registered with the Kenyan embassy.

“We have launched diaspora portal to help those outside Kenya to register. Even those who don’t have papers should register for us to help them,” she said.

The committee had invited Mohammed to explain measures the country is taking to help Kenyans stranded in Saudi Arabia.

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