Interpol warns Ugandan migrant workers

By Godfrey Olukya

Posted on Thursday, 7 July 2016 13:44

Shortages in its labour sector, especially construction and service-based jobs, have made Gulf countries an attractive destination for East Africans, but a lack of strong labour agreements between governments has led to terrible working conditions for migrant workers.

Labour firms should be responsible for monitoring those workers sent abroad for jobs

In the last year alone, there have been reports of the violent deaths of at least 10 Ugandan women in Gulf countries at the hands of their employers or relatives of their employers. Charges are hardly brought against the suspected perpetrators of injustice.

Last July, Uganda’s Minster of Labour, Gender and Social Development, Muruli Mukasa signed a labour agreement with Saudi Arabia in an effort to assure Ugandan migrant workers in the Middle East country.

But Interpol says Uganda should put an outright stop such labour exports or be stricter with labour export companies and make them liable for the safety of migrant workers.

“Labour firms should be responsible for monitoring those workers sent abroad for jobs and if some of the workers are stuck, the labour companies must return them,” Interpol Uganda’s deputy director, Benson Oyo-Nyeko, warned.

Six months ago, Uganda banned labour exporting firms from taking young women to Arab countries to work as house maids after reports of deaths and torture of women emerged.

But in order to circumnavigate a temporary ban on the export of domestic labour, some individuals and labour firms have moved potential migrant workers to Nairobi, Kenya, where they are flown to their final destinations.

Interpol also revealed that Ugandans, who travel to work in gold mines in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and South Africa, also fall prey to recruiters of terrorism gangs.

Many young men from Uganda have lost their lives in DRC and other countries in terrorism related acts despite having been recruited for mining or factory jobs, Interpol officials said.

“There should be interventions between neighbouring countries to stop acts of trafficking in persons within the region,” Oyo-Nyeko advised.

Oyo-Nyeko spoke at the launching of a study assessing schemes, routes and factors promoting the prevalence of human trafficking across Uganda’s borders compiled by an organisation called Platform for Labor Action held at in Kampala.

David Omoding, board member at the organisation, said that factors promoting international trafficking include offer of free tickets and visa arrangements by labour firms, gaps in the law relating to punishments for illegal recruiters and lack of government capacity to monitor and stop illegal recruitment agencies.

According to the country’s labour department about 400,000 Uganda women and young men have gone to work in Gulf countries and other Asian and African countries.

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