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Protect migrant workers | Nation

by kenya-tribune

The government has announced plans to establish safe houses in Gulf countries to shelter migrant Kenyan workers in distress before they are flown back to the country or moved to work elsewhere.

Labour and Protection Cabinet Secretary Florence Bore told the Senate Committee on Labour and Social Welfare that Sh60 million had been set aside for the rollout of the plan, with the first one expected to be established in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Others will be set up in Jeddah and Dammam in Saudi Arabia and in Qatar, following a 2021 Cabinet approval.

This is a welcome move, coming at a time when reports indicate that 93 Kenyan workers have died in Saudi Arabia and other Middle East countries in the past three years.

The plan will, hopefully, end cases where families have been crying out to the authorities to help them to bring back the bodies of their loved ones after they died in mysterious circumstances. Things have gotten uglier with some bodies missing organs.

But more need to be done to ensure that those seeking jobs in the Gulf countries have unfettered access to the Kenyan embassies and consulates there, over and above the equally laudable plan to give the jobseekers pre-departure training. 

Tighter regulation of recruitment agencies is also needed to ensure would-be employers commit in writing to upholding the dignity of Kenyan workers.

Potential employers in these countries should be legally compelled to desist from inhumane practices such as barring their employees from communicating with their families back home.

There are more than 200,000 Kenyans in the United Arab Emirates, for instance, but only 87,784 have been facilitated by the government to seek jobs in the Middle East since 2019. They should all be protected in line with the Bill of Rights as enshrined in the Constitution.

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