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Kenyan domestic workers ill-treated abroad

11 April 2013, 14:07

Nairobi - Kenya has banned employment of its nationals as domestic workers in the Middle East, citing alleged gross human rights violations.

Authorities said more than 3 000 Kenyans were languishing in the Middle East after being duped by employment bureaus, which lure jobless Kenyans with the promise of giving them well-paying jobs.

The decision was made after Kenya's Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) voiced concerns and asked the Government to outlaw foreign recruitment and employment bureaus.

Cotu Secretary General Francis Atwoli said the State should act to avert what he termed as the growing risk of many Kenyans ending up in slavery.

Atwoli insisted the Government should close all foreign employment bureaus until the Ministry of Labour and that of Foreign Affairs came up with a law to regulate their operations.

"Even if we do not have enough employment opportunities locally, there is no justification for unscrupulous employment bureaus to lure Kenyans out of their country to go and live in stress in other countries. This is unacceptable and we demand that immediate action be taken to end this practice," Atwoli said in Nairobi, on Wednesday.

He said some breadwinners were abandoning their families to go and seek jobs in foreign countries only to fail to communicate back and sometimes face the risk of never returning home due to lack of airfare.

In a statement released in Nairobi, Foreign Affairs Political and Diplomatic Secretary Patrick Wamoto said the Government is worried about the high number of Kenyans who have sought employment in the Middle East and ended up in distress.

Last year, Wamoto warned employment bureaus of impending action but most of them continued with business as usual, luring Kenyans and helping them secure travel documents to fly out to mainly Iran and Saudi Arabia for employment as domestic workers and farm workers.

"The complaints received range from mistreatment, lack of payment, too much work, denial of food and lack of  communication with their relatives in Kenya," said the ministry official.

Wamoto said in some cases, Kenyans are lured by unscrupulous and unregistered agents who promise supposedly lucrative jobs to desperate and unsuspecting people.

He said the Government is working on a mechanism to address the concerns raised by the distressed Kenyans in the Middle East.

He reiterated the Government's commitment to the protection and welfare of its citizens, including those outside the country.

- CAJ News


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