By Moses Walubiri
Data from the labor department in ministry of gender indicates that 42,015 Ugandans have been taken to the Middle East by labor exporting firms since 2006.
According to the Principal Labor Officer in charge of statistics, Milton Turyasiima, the figure includes Ugandans who sought employment as guards in Iraq at the height of the insurgency five years ago.
“The figure has been fluctuating, but it peaked four years ago,” Turyasiima told New Vision yesterday.
The year 2010 saw the highest number (8368) with 2006 – the year it became mandatory for labor exporting firms to be issued licenses – registering the smallest number (1685).
Uganda will next week sign MoUs with Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Kuwait as Government seeks to draw a line under harrowing incidents of abuse Ugandans seeking to escape the fangs of unemployment back home get subjected to by their employers abroad.
Under the new arrangement revealed yesterday by State Minister for Labor, Mwesigwa Rukutana, the welfare of Ugandans in the four countries will be the concern of the respective governments, instead of the shadowy labor firms that tend to abandon recruits the moment they board planes to distant shores.
“We want the treatment of Ugandans in these countries to be a government-to-government issue. We have concluded guidelines on placement of Ugandans abroad and the processing of executing MoUs will be concluded next week,” Rukutana told MPs on the committee of gender yesterday.
The process of signing MoUs, Rukutana said, has proved protracted as the Attorney General’s office had to clear the process before Government could engage the labor recipient countries.
According to permanent secretary ministry of gender, labor and social welfare, Pius Bigirimana, Uganda has issued licenses to 29 labor exporting firms.
However, harrowing tales of Ugandans getting abused in foreign countries has plagued the labor export business, with one firm – Uganda Veterans Development – having its license revoked over complaints of sex slavery by girls it took to Iraq.
Rukutana admitted that thousands of Ugandan laborers, especially in oriental countries, are off the ministry’s radar since no labor exporting firm has been issued a license to serve that region.
Meanwhile, MPs on the gender committee want a standalone ministry of labor to handle what described as a growing problem of labor relations in the country.