By CYRUS OMBATI
Atwoli now wants the government to arrest the scrupulous agents who have over the years duped Kenyans by getting them into substandard enslaving contracts with employers who end up mistreating them.
“Some of these agencies are paid upfront, and when someone goes to work there, they don’t get paid and are later informed the recruiting agency was paid all their dues upfront,” said Atwoli.
Atwoli further called on the government to confiscate recruiting certificates from the agencies until new policies protecting domestic workers abroad are put in place.
Referring to his closing address to the 101st International Labour Congress that was recently held at the International Labour Organization in Geneva, Atwoli cited youth unemployment in the country as a ticking time bomb, a situation pushing many young Kenyans to work in demeaning and life threatening environments.
Kenya joins a growing list of countries that have placed such bans, preventing their workers from working in the Middle East, following revelations of sexual harassment, mistreatment and even murder in the hands of employers.
The ban will stay in place until all recruitment agencies are vetted, according to a statement from the Foreign Affairs ministry on Friday.
The ministry’s diplomatic secretary, Mr Patrick Wamoto, said the government was concerned that most Kenyans seeking jobs in the Arab countries returned home in tears.
“The complaints received range from mistreatment, lack of payment of salaries, over-work, denial of food and lack of communication with their relatives in Kenya. In some cases, the Kenyans are lured by unscrupulous and unregistered agents who promise them non-existent lucrative jobs” Mr Wamoto said.
“In the meantime, the government wishes to inform all Kenyans that it has temporarily suspended recruitment and export of domestic workers (housekeepers/maids) to Middle East countries with immediate effects.”
There has been an increase in cases of torture and death involving Kenyans in Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates.