Efforts to protect migrants laudable

Wednesday, April 17th, 2024 06:00 | By
Hundreds of migrants as they travelled to Europe from North Africa by way of the central and eastern Mediterranean route.
Hundreds of migrants as they travelled to Europe from North Africa by way of the central and eastern Mediterranean route. PHOTO/Print

As the country continues to reap from the increasing diaspora remittances currently estimated to hit the USD4 billion mark, the government can no longer turn a blind eye to the plight of workers destined for the Middle East.

This includes the recruitment process, travelling to their destination country, contracts terms with the employing families and their return journey after their tenures are expired.

Most of the women travelling to the region are from vulnerable backgrounds characterized by poverty, unemployment, and breadwinners of their extended families who are desperately looking for any form of job to earn income, regardless of terms and conditions.

That explains why, despite horrifying reports of slavery-like employment conditions meted on women working in the Gulf that result in deaths, gullible  women eyeing job opportunities in that region fail to see themselves as potential victims.

They overlook all the red flags and consider the fate that has befallen their predecessors as sheer bad luck. Kenya appears to be making steps in the right direction to end the suffering of its migrants working abroad, especially in the Middle East but a lot more needs to be done.

The Labour Ministry is directing Kenyans seeking jobs in the Gulf to visit the National Employment Authority website to access job openings. The ministry says it has vetted over 500 recruitment agencies to weed out rogue agencies thus all jobs posted on the website are legitimate.

Another notable measure is to  give women travelling to the Gulf a soft loan of up to Sh300,000 disbursed through the National Youth Enterprise Fund to cater for travel and medical examination expenses. The government has also announced that it has signed human rights-based bilateral labour agreements with countries which are popular destinations for domestic workers.

We, however, caution that before these agreements can be actualized, the government should inform the public what the terms of engagement between the domestic workers and their prospective employers entail.

Kenya should ensure maximum freedom of women while on duty including the right to own a phone to communicate with their families back home. This will enable the domestic worker call the provided toll-free number in times of distress.

Under standard labour migration governance, the destination countries must be compelled to accord Kenyan women the necessary support and ensure their safety as part of the bilateral agreement terms.

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