Gov’t puts measures to protect migrant workers against exploitation

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The government has assured Kenyans working abroad of safety as plans are underway to have two safe homes in Saudi Arabia where Kenyans who have lost their jobs will be housed.

Labour Cabinet Secretary Simon Chelugui said already a budgetary allocation of Sh70 million is in place for the project and added that the Ministry is still engaging the Saudi Arabia government to see whether they can donate or give a house for the government to refurbish to be used by Kenyan migrant workers.

“We have been planning to get funds to finance safe homes. We wouldn’t want to see Kenyans stranded abroad but will be in safe homes. We will have a pilot project in Saudi Arabia, establish two homes but we will first start with one at Riyadh the headquarters and then Jeddah before we progress to other countries,” said Chelugui.

The CS added that another move the government has made is partnering with international organisations such as the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) Kenya where they will be able to moderate, reduce and standardise the way they treat workers both local and foreign.

“Recently we were in Geneva for an international labour conference and a number of conventions were discussed including migration of migrant workers. This convention will be cascaded to individual member countries and we will be able to domesticate, work with international organisations like IOM Kenya and ILO to ensure that we prevail on countries that we still experience abuses,” added Chelugui.

The CS was speaking during the launch of a national job fair in Mombasa where he said it is the first one which has been organised for the past two years due to Covid-19 protocols.

Through the National Employment Authority (NEA), the one-week job fair has brought trainers, employers and workers to one place to discuss challenges and opportunities that are there for young people.

According to Chelugui, the country produces about 1.2 million graduates, the economy can absorb 800,000 young graduates, and the balance has to find ways and means of being absorbed both locally and abroad.

In quest of looking for employment abroad, some people have lost their lives while some have been abused.

“Through this job fair, we want to profile the issues and even sensitise job seekers and also those players in the sector on how we can deliver smooth, safe and orderly migration of Kenyan workers,” said Chelugui.

He noted that there are excess skills in the country, as we have skills in medical fields, we also have teachers who have been trained and they are in need of jobs. Some of them have waited for five years, there are also opportunities in the region and abroad.

In the hospitality sector where there are opportunities in the hotel industry locally and in the Middle East, Europe and the rest of the world, Chelugui said there is need to organise the opportunities in a systematic way so that no Kenyan is abused or loses life in search of greener pastures.

“Unemployment is one of the most challenging social issues in our country. We however urge our youth as they focus on foreign jobs, to also look inwards on what we can generate locally,” said Chelugui.

He further asked Kenyans looking for jobs abroad to use registered recruitment agencies and ensure they continuously comply with the set rules and regulations to ensure the movement of workers is smooth.

The CS noted that the government is mandated to ensure citizens migrating to other countries for labour are taken care of as per the international labour standards.

By Chari Suche

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