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Saudi Arabia commits to ensuring safety of Ugandan migrant (kyeyo) workers

By John Agaba

Added 13th October 2017 12:29 PM

Gender and labour minister Janat Mukwaya said he Saudi Arabia government has agreed that all domestic workers are provided with telephone SIM cards on arrival for easy communication

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Gender and labour minister Janat Mukwaya said he Saudi Arabia government has agreed that all domestic workers are provided with telephone SIM cards on arrival for easy communication

Janat Mukwaya and Ambassador Abdullah Fahad Al Qahtani shake hands after launching an online system that will be used in monitoring Ugandan workers in Saudi Arabia. Photo by Ramadhan Abbey

Saudi Arabia has eased process for exportation of Ugandan workers after Ambassador Abdullah Fahd Al Qahtani said he had visited 30 recruitment agencies which all met requirements. 

A year ago, the Government imposed a ban on the exportation of workers following reports of hostility meted out on Ugandans working in the Middle East country. 

The growing concern was that domestic workers exported to work in foreign countries, especially in the Middle and Far East, were being conscripted into sexual slavery, tortured, dehumanised and at times, denied pay. 

However, the Government lifted the ban early this year after the two countries agreed on “safer working conditions” (for Ugandan domestic workers in the Middle East country).

Now, those seeking to go abroad sign a four-party employment contract, sealed both in Uganda and the recipient country.

Gender and labour minister Janat Mukwaya said the Government had penned bilateral agreements with Saudi Arabia at the meeting with Ambassador Fahd Al Qahtani in Kampala. 

“The Saudi Arabia government has agreed that all domestic workers are provided with telephone SIM cards on arrival (in the work country) for easy communication,” the minister said.

She said the Middle East country had also developed an online system for monitoring of domestic workers — MUSANED and has ensured that recruitment companies develop internal complaints and redress mechanisms, where workers can express dissatisfaction.

Saudi Arabia had also introduced a wage-monitoring system, so not a single worker is ripped off their money.  

“We will set up call centres and deploy Ugandan supervisors charged with responsibilities of monitoring conditions of Ugandans while on duty abroad so all these ‘safety’ mechanisms are followed,” the minister said. 

The Ambassador said his country would abide by the terms set in the bilateral agreement.

"Only licensed companies are allowed to recruit workers.  No middle men".

Ambassador Fahd Al Qahtani said he had visited 30 recruitment agencies in the country and these had been allowed to file online visa applications (to Saudi Arabia) on behalf of workers recruited.

“We want to strengthen our ties with Saudi Arabia because it offers employment to many of our youths.

"We are streamlining the recruitment and work process so it is transparent and at any one time we can know the exact number of Ugandans in the Middle East Country and what states they are in,” Mukwaya said. 

Andrew Tumwine Kameraho, the chairperson of Uganda Association of External Recruitment Agencies, said about 20, 000 Ugandans were in Saudi Arabia and about 100, 000 in the entire Middle and Far East Countries. 

 

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