Government is in the final stages of repatriating more than 500 Ugandan migrant workers, majorly victims of torture from Arab countries of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, and Oman, among others.
The strategic plan to rescue desperate Ugandans who have faced grim torture at the hands of their Arab employers was revealed by the Minister of Labour, Gender and Social Development Hon. Betty Amongi.
Hon. Amongi noted that government is in advanced stages of bringing back home migrant workers who have reported cases of relentless torture and inhumane treatment by their bosses in the Middle East.
She also noted that some Arab employers deny some of the workers exit visas, contrary to section 66 of the Employment Act, the Recruitment of Ugandan Migrant Workers Abroad Regulations 2005, and 2015, in which a migrant worker is licensed for two years after which he/she has to return home.
There are also allegations of deliberate refusal by some employers to pay domestic workers their monthly earnings, and some of them have no avenues to complain, as communications with the outside world is in most cases cut off after confiscating their phones by these errant arabs.
Some of the victims, according to Hon. Amongi have approached Ugandan Embassies in those countries for bailout, while several of them have shared video or audio clips with their families depicting the grim situation they go through.
It has to be noted that both migrant workers who were legally flown to the middle east through the Gender Ministry and those trafficked by various secret recruitment organizations have fallen prey to this grim treatment.
Some of their employers in those Arab countries go as far as confiscating their passports to deny them a chance to return home, while keeping them under brutal treatment, amidst donkey work.
The most pinpointed country which has earned notoriety due to its citizens’ track record of brutalizing African domestic workers is Saudi Arabia. It is alleged that about 300 female domestic workers in Riyadh had their passports illegally seized by their bosses, this year alone.
Some of the cries and complaints by these migrant workers fall on deaf ears of their respective employment agencies, while Uganda embassies have also not done much to solve grievances fronted by Ugandan workers, most especially torture and mistreatment at the hands of their arab bosses. Some have even lost their lives in the due process.
Efforts by the government of Uganda to bring back home its citzens draws parrarrels with several petitions to Parliament from the concerned families and friends through their representatives to compell the state to repatriate their relatives, whose lives are in serious danger as a result of mistreatment by Arabs.
On July 27th, a family from Kawempe Division in Kampala petitioned Parliament over a labour export company, Prime Linkages Uganda Ltd, which they alleged forcefully kept their daughter Annet Nakagulire in Saudi Arabia, after having been gruesomely tortured.
In July 2022, the Speaker of Parliament Anita Among instructed the Committee on Gender, Labour and Social Development headed by Hon. Flavia Kabahenda, also the Kyegegwa District Woman MP, to investigate the welfare of the migrant workers and suggest appropriate intervention to the Government.
Also worth noting, on April 7th, the Senior Presidential Advisor on Diaspora Affairs, Ambassador Abbey Walusimbi held talks with the Head of Consular Services at the Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia H.E Bader Alsaqyan in an effort to find solutions to the challenges associated with labour externalization to the foreign country.
Statistics from the Gender Ministry illustrate that at least 28,000 Ugandans seek household jobs in the Middle East due to biting poverty and family breakdown, among other causes.
The Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) in its 2021 report indicated that in that year alone, about 28 Ugandan migrant workers, majority of whom are women, passed on in the Arabian Peninsula where they were working as domestic workers, as a result of inhumane treatment.
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