Report reveals 93 Kenyans have died in the Saudi Arabia since 2019

Haki Africa Rapid Response Officer, Salima Njoki (second right in black) joins families whose relatives are missing in the Gulf for a press conference in Nairobi [David Njaaga, Standard]

Some 93 Kenyan migrant workers have died in Saudi Arabia and other gulf countries since January 2019.

The migrants were part of 87,784 workers that the government had facilitated to work in Middle East countries such as Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain since 2019.

According to a report by the Labour ministry, a majority of the deaths are reported to have been from natural causes such as Covid-19, cardiac arrests, childbirth, cancer and respiratory complications.

However, MPs rejected the causes of death given to the ministry by the host countries and are convinced that many of the Kenyans were killed.

Unsatisfied with the report presented by Labour PS Peter Tum, nominated MP Godfrey Otsotsi narrated the story of Melvin Kang’ereha who was recruited by United Manpower Services in May 2019 and died in 2020 after working in Saudi Arabia as a domestic worker.

According to the official report of the Saudi Government, Melvin died of natural causes but Osotsi who claimed he has video evidence, the woman died in jail with her hands, legs and back bloodied.

“She was also not being paid her salary. This lady went through a lot of torture including being denied food. She ran away and unfortunately she was arrested. On the day she was supposed to be released, she was found dead with her feet, hands and back with blood,” said Otsotsi.

“The government doesn’t care about its people and cannot and investigate what really happened,” added the MP.

Osotsi also blamed the recruiting agencies which are vetted by the Ministry of Labour for being accomplices in the deaths of the Kenyans. The MP explained that even though many of the workers call for help from the agencies after going through torture and inhuman treatment from their employers, very little is done to help.

Echoing similar sentiments was Emuhaya MP Omboko Milemba. “Much as we need our people to go out of the country to look for jobs, we cannot allow them to suffer.” PS Tum stated that the ministry is in the process of collaborating with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) with the aim of enabling continuous and rigorous monitoring of the private employment agencies in Kenya.