Kenyans in Saudi to get better working conditions

Nation September 25  2012 

Kenyans headed to Saudi Arabia for jobs could soon find better working conditions and less harassment by their employers.

A framework on how to manage the transfer of labour from the country to the Asian country is in the offing.

The Saudi Arabian government is set to sign a memorandum of understanding with the Kenyan government on  the intricate issue of labour work force.

The memorandum will also be signed alongside another one on tourism, according to Saudi Arabian ambassador to Kenya Mr Ghorm Malhan.

Hundreds of jobless Kenyans have found themselves in hostile territory when they leave the country for  Saudi Arabia after being lured by unscrupulous agencies.

Most of them seeking unskilled jobs have been abused and locked up in highly protected homes and only manage to escape and return home as refugees.

The MOU is expected to address these issues and ensure a fair and acceptable system where Kenyans will be able to seek legitimate jobs in the oil-rich country.

Mr Malhan further said Saudi Arabia was working on more economically viable trade partnerships with the country.

“We are working on modalities to export livestock from Kenya to our country,” Mr Malhan said.

The ambassador was addressing guests during celebrations of the Saudi Arabian National Day at the Laico Regency Hotel Monday night.

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Kenya Government Halts Domestic Workers Recruitment to Middle East over Mis-Treatments

Published by East African Standard on 22nd June 2012 by Joylene Sing’oei

The Government has suspended recruitment and export of domestic workers to Middle East following several complaints of harassment by employers.

In a press statement released Friday, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Political and Diplomatic Secretary Patrick Wamoto said many Kenyans seeking employment in the Middle East as domestic workers especially housekeepers and maids have ended up in distress.

Wamoto added that the complains the ministry receive range from mistreatment, lack of payment of salaries, overwork, denial of food and lack of communication with their relatives in Kenya.

“The Government wishes to reiterate its commitment to the protection and welfare of all citizens, including those outside the country. We are working on a mechanism, including but not limited to, vetting of all recruitment agents afresh and signing of Labour frameworks Agreement with various countries to address some of the concerns raised by the distressed Kenyans in the Middle East”, read part of the Statement.

Most of the Kenyan migrants to Middle East earn their livelihoods as drivers, technicians, salesmen, security guards, engineers, accountants, bankers and domestic workers.

Cases of Kenyans being abused and even killed in Saudi Arabia have been on the increase.

As the quest for working abroad heightens for many skilled and semi-skilled Kenyans, only a handful know the implications of working in countries where labour laws are hardly emphasised.

Some have even ignored media reports of gross brutality toward foreign labourers in some countries and gone ahead to embark on trips abroad, expecting greener pastures only to undergo modern-day slavery.

Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace Organizes a Counter Human Trafficking Conference

ROME, May 08, 2012 (CISA )

Read human trafficking stories here, here  and here

Delegates from Africa joined participants from the rest of the world in a conference on combating human trafficking hosted by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace (PCJP) today May 8, 2012.  The conference held in Rome will focus on prevention, pastoral support and rehabilitation and a survivor of trafficking will also share her harrowing story. It draws in a variety of speakers from the church, government, NGO’s and the civil society groups.
The Bishop for Migrants in England and Wales and key organizer of the conference, Bishop Patrick Lynch said, “My hope is that it will create within the Church a greater awareness of the extent and tragedy of human trafficking. Bishop Lynch also hopes that the conference will strengthen the resolve of Church groups, governments and civic groups to work together to prevent trafficking and support those people and projects who do heroic work in helping the victims of trafficking.

According to CCN, the conference is being co-organised by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and the Office for Migration Policy (OMP) of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, building on a successful partnership with the Metropolitan Police Service.

Art: Working to Counter Human Trafficking Does not Require Neutrality

By Mike Mungai

Bwana Mdogo Arts uses the the words and the image of Desmond Tutu a Nobel laureate to convey a counter human trafficking message. Follow Bwana Mdogo Arts and other artists against human trafficking by liking their facebook page. Artists sharing this passion too are welcome to join in.

I have thought about our Kenyan and East Africa ladies coming back from Middle East and telling stories of horror. I have always wondered if there are no human rights institutions or organizations in those countries where this is happening. Or if there are human rights institutions, do they care to defend the rights of people coming from poor countries; other races or from other parts of the world? A human rights organization stands above human differences and just focuses on defending human rights and the dignity of the human person. Human rights are universal even in a multi-cultural setting created by the modern globalised world or in a traditional cultural setting. Despite the fact that culture is not universal in nature, the values espoused in the human rights agenda cannot be defined and limited by cultural perceptions. The entry point for human rights is human dignity which is specific to all the persons of the world and has a transcendental value.  Hence subjecting another human being to horrid treatment, slavery or torture is an act against human dignity.

Henceforth, the fight against human trafficking does not require neutrality. The words of  Archbishop Tutu above speak volumes, “if you have chosen neutrality in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” Archbishop Tutu represents a great voice against apartheid. After a long struggle apartheid became history. Lets hope that a day will come when TIP will be a thing of the past. And the stories of human agony as a result will come to an end. Aluta continua.
Read more about human rights universality here

A Sad Story from a Victim of Human Trafficking from Saudi Arabia

Story by Nation 9th April 2012

Another victim of human-trafficking, who was lured to Saudi Arabia with promises of a well-paying job, returned home early this week with tales of tribulations and suffering.

 Ms Jane Wanjiku narrated to the Nation how her Saudi Arabian boss turned her into a slave by forcing her to work for long hours without a break and subjecting her to inhuman treatment.

Ms Wanjiku first heard of well-paying job opportunities in Saudi Arabia through a friend, who introduced her to agents in Nairobi. A deal was struck for Ms Wanjiku to take up a job as a caretaker for a disabled child.

Repay the expenses

Two weeks after leaving Nairobi for Saudi last December 28, she found the conditions unbearable but her boss rejected her plea to return home on grounds that she had to repay the expenses they had incurred on her.

“I wanted to come back because it was too much for me but they refused. I spoke to the agent and they took me to another home”, the 47-year-old told the Nation on Monday.

Although she thought the move would bring reprieve, it turned out to be a plunge from the frying pan to the fire.

She said her hopes crushed upon realisation that food was laced with drugs just like in her previous work place. Matters became even worse because she was forced to eat the food.

“They urged me to eat, saying it was important for my health but I realised the food was laced with drugs. I had no option and ate a little food,” the mother of four said.

She claimed her food was always served from a different tray which made her suspect a sinister motive.

She then sought the help of a local woman for interpretations of Arabic, which her employer’s family spoke and realised they intended to kill her.

“The woman told me they wanted to kill me because I was too inquisitive. They thought I would narrate my tribulations and that could possibly spoil their market,” Ms Wanjiku claimed.

It is for that reason that she believes her life is still in danger after unknown people allegedly trailed her on Sunday upon arrival back to Kenya.

But when contacted, Al-Kaki Enterprises & Travel manager Julius Kimemia (the agents recruiting the domestic workers) denied the allegations, saying she was flown back to the country purely on medical grounds.

“I talked to the woman yesterday (Sunday) when she was still at the airport and she said she was unwell. I don’t have any information regarding those claims, but we will look into them,” Mr Kimemia told the Nation on phone.

 

 

But even as Mr Kimemia insisted Ms Wanjiku was never assaulted, she revealed bruises and injuries on her body to indicate that she had been tortured.

 Ms Wanjiku claimed to have become unconscious for several hours one day after being forced to eat food laced with drugs only to wake up with pain in her stomach. She said her health has deteriorated since.

But the worst experience for Ms Wanjiku was when she was locked up in a roof-less room without food for three days.

“That is when I contemplated committing suicide. I prayed to God for it was all I could do,” she said. She jumped through a small window into the next building from where police took her to hospital. It was while at the hospital that the host family coordinated her return journey.

Cruel Story of Human Trafficking of a Kenyan Girl in Lebanon

Video Source: KBC April 1st 2012

The young Victoria Wambui was trafficked to Lebanon last year in June. While there, she passed through horrendous experiences. Victoria’s mother  is suffering from stroke, hence when the chance appeared to get a job presented itself, Victoria embraced it with the hope that she will find resources to help her mother.

While in Lebanon, she was not paid for her first two months;  as this money was paid to the Lebanese agents. She had not been informed of this earlier. She was being beaten with heavy electric wires. Her legs as a result started swelling and oozing water. She was on various occasions denied food. At one time she was strangled until she passed out.

Well, what Victoria passed through was such inhuman. We just ask ourselves, which person would treat another person like this? For sure Middle East governments should act too against their own citizens who have little humanity in their hearts. On the other hand, where are the civil societies in these countries to speak for these “poor slaves“??

Slavery was an old practice yet so new

Find more art against trafficking on facebook here

In this picture Gado recounts a sad story of slave trade before the 19th Century. According to the texts more than 20 million Africans were taken to slavery in other lands. Five times more were killed in the hunt for slavery. The slaves faced horrendous experiences in the hands of their masters. The masters could beat them thoroughly and even kill them. Has the situation changed in modern times? NO! It has not. Today there are many people across the world  in slavery. However some of the sad stories have been the many deaths of those trafficked to the Middle East. It seems that our governments owing to resource paucity cannot adequately protect the citizens. There is need however for more awareness campaigns. The government on the other hand should look at ways to address this problem such as arresting the quack employment agencies.

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