Kenya to build safe houses in Saudi Arabia to host abused citizens


Cabinet secretary for labor Simon Chelugui. PHOTO | LUCY WANJIRU | NMG

Kenya is seeking to safeguard its migrant workers from abuses in the Middle East countries by establishing safe houses there.

Labour Cabinet Secretary Simon Chelugui on Tuesday said Sh70 million has been set aside to build safe houses in Saudi Arabia where Kenyan migrants have undergone mental and physical violations.

Domestic workers in Saudi Arabia are often reported to be victims of severe abuses by their employers. The reported cases range from psychological to physical torture, with some leading to death.

The government has also begun tracing Kenyans suffering abroad as it puts stringent measures to control illegal labour immigrants.

CS Chelugui said it will now be mandatory for all private recruiting agents to register with the National Employment Authority (NEA) to be allowed to export labour.

Speaking in Mombasa during the official launch of the National Job Fair, the CS said his office will work together with the Ministry of Interior and other stakeholders to ensure there is compliance in job placements abroad.

"We will enforce that requirement that all private recruiters register with NEA be allowed to recruit any Kenyan to work abroad. As a quick measure to save those suffering abroad and more so in Saudi Arabia, we shall open safe homes to protect those being mistreated as we plan for their repatriation, "said Mr Chelugui.

"Some job placement companies have taken advantage of policy gaps to exploit Kenyans but now with the new policies, they will have to comply or else they will close their shops," he said.

The CS singled out the Coast region as one of the areas with the highest number of unregistered job recruitment agents with some being used to recruit youth to terror groups.

"In the last two years, we have registered 97 cases of Kenyans who have died while working abroad but we want to end it," said the CS.

Parliament’s Committee on Labour and Social Welfare data shows the number of Kenyans working and living in Saudi Arabia rose from 55,000 in 2019 to 97,000 this year.

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