We commend the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for recommending that the recruitment of Kenyans to work in Saudi Arabia stop until there is adequate protection and their rights guaranteed.
According to the Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Macharia Kamau, they had asked the Labour ministry in July to impose a temporary ban because the death and distress statistics had ballooned.
While in 2019 there were only three deaths, this went up to 48 last year and so far this year the number is at 41, three months to end of year. Distress cases are at 1,025 in 2020/21 against 88 in 2019/20, a rise of more than 1,000 percent.
According to Mr Kamau, the figures are a warning requiring “bold and decisive action” to tame the suffering that is hurting families, friends and relatives.
This, therefore, calls for a firmer step than a mere “recommendation” between ministries.
This must be treated as an emergency and Kenya should stop the recruitment and eventual transfers immediately.
This is something that requires the attention of the Cabinet so that the loss of lives and hell-like treatment visited on innocent work-seeking Kenyans stop forever.
We ask the government to secure the lives of Kenyans working abroad by investigating the Saudi case as carefully as possible before anyone leaves the country again for that station. It is unacceptable.