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PS Kamau faces backlash for remarks on Kenyans working in Saudi Arabia

Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Kamau Macharia [Wilberforce Okwiri, the Standard]

Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Kamau Macharia has come under sharp criticism from a section of Twitter users following his remarks on Kenyans who travel to Gulf countries in search of employment.

Macharia was responding to AMREF Communications Director Lizz Ntonjira, who questioned why basic human rights for Kenyans working in the Middle East Countries were being abused.

"Amb Kamau, but for your long will our sisters continue being enslaved in the Middle East? How many lives have been lost in the past? Still, these rogue agencies that send these young girls out there exist? What is being done?" Ntonjira enquired. 

In a rejoinder, the Principal Secretary said the government had on numerous occasions warned Kenyans against traveling to the Gulf Countries for employment but they did not listen.

"We have told Kenyans repeatedly to stop sending this category of workers to Saudi [Arabia]. You’ve chosen not to listen," said Macharia in a statement on Twitter.

Macharia’s statement was not taken lightly by Kenyans who took to the comment section to express their disappointment.

"Kenyans deserve better. Kenyans deserve answers (irrespective of what category of work they do). Kenyans deserve action taken against human rights abuses happening to our young women in the middle east, who are tortured, and even killed! Not this cavalier and lackluster attitude," Ntonjira said.

"Some of the young girls going to Saudi [Arabia] come from so deep in the villages and some have never heard of these warnings. Take action against agencies or compel Saudi Arabia to treat Kenyans better," Lynne Wachira said.

"Is that the only response you had? You need to resign from your position and leave that post to a competent person," Japhet Korir said.

"This is insensitive. Nobody goes there [Saudi Arabia] for fun. A majority of those who go do so to make a living since they've been failed by their home country,” Samuel Ouya weighed in.

The ambassador’s remarks came a day after photos of a 24-year-old Kenyan, Diana Chepkemoi, surfaced online looking emaciated with reports that her employer had detained her in Saudi Arabia.

The photos sparked an uproar among Kenyans who called for immediate action from relevant authorities to ensure she returns home safely.

Earlier today, PS Macharia assured that Chepkemoi was in safe hands after the Saudi Arabia ambassador took over the matter.