‘Gov’t looking into complaints raised by Kenyan workers in Saudi Arabia’ CS Chelugui says
Published on: August 19, 2021 07:58 (EAT)
The government is looking into complaints raised by Kenyan migrant workers in Saudi Arabia, Labour CS Simon Chelugui has said. Speaking on Citizen TV’s JKLive Wednesday night, CS Chelugui assured Kenyans seeking employment both locally and abroad of their safety. According to CS Chelugui, 97 Kenyans have died in Saudi Arabia in the last three years, adding that they are following up on the post-mortem reports with authorities in the Arab nation. “I want to assure any Kenyan working locally or abroad that their lives are important… I believe the future is bright and we assure these ladies of their safety and comfort in Saudi Arabia,” the CS said. This comes amid complaints from Kenyans working in Saudi Arabia, with at least 40 deaths recorded since January- according to statistics from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Lorna Jerop and Faith Murunga, both victims of human abuse in Saudi Arabia however accused the government of failing to address the plight of Kenyans in the Arab nation. Murunga detailed on her experience, adding that she had lost hope giving the cruel treatment from her employer. ” My boss in Saudi Arabia poured hot water on my arm and that’s why I have this burn. I know many Kenyans who have died in Saudi Arabia. One time I was beaten so bad after my boss asked me to bring a cup and I brought a spoon yet I didn’t understand the language. I used to have one meal in a day and that is strong tea. If the government does not take action many more will die.” Murunga’s journey to Saudi Arabia started with training in Syokimau, where they were handed basic skills on how to be a housemaid in Saudi Arabia. Upon arrival her passport was confiscated. The worst was yet to come. On her part, Jerop the Kenyan Embassy in Saudi Arabia has done little to alleviate suffering. “If someone dies there, the girls contribute among themselves to have their colleague returned to Kenya. A guy called Mwana wa Mary has been helping Kenyans. He was arrested in February.” CS Chelugui acknowledged the challenges faced by Kenyans seeking livelihoods in the Middle East, noting that talks are ongoing on the existing bilateral labour agreement. He added that he intends to visit Saudi Arabia possibly within the next 30 days. “We have about 97,000 Kenyans in Saudi Arabia. Over 200 Kenyans are on deportation or transit back home driven by different factors. Some have run away from their previous contracts and they have been reported to the authorities.” In the recent past, videos of distress have been emerging out of Saudi Arabia, showing Kenyan women in apparent anguish in crowded rooms, some of them lying sick on the verge of death. But even as the victims await justice, questions linger on when and how the government will address the sensitive and thorny issue of Kenyans working abroad-albeit in poor conditions.