Scores detained as dream for jobs fail
Posted Friday, July 13 2012 at 23:30
- The detainees are said to be living in deplorable conditions with no food and proper accommodation
More than 80 Kenyans are stranded and starving in a transitional detention camp in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, the Nation has learnt.
The group said to have left the country with hopes of securing employment in the Middle East called on the government to rescue them.
They are living under deplorable conditions with no food, no proper sleeping place or basic requirements.
A text message from one of the stranded Kenyans yesterday said some of them have lived in a camp she identified as Tariili in the suburbs of Riyadh for over a month.
“Living conditions here are terrible. We want to go home. We are calling on our Government to come to our rescue,” she said in the message. She however declined to be named for fear of repercussions.
She added that she went to Saudi Arabia over a month ago to work as a stewardess but ended up as a domestic servant in the hands of an abusive employer.
Reasons for detention
Head of Middle East Department on refugees at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Nairobi Nyambura Kamau could not be reached for a comment as she had left the office.
However, other officers at the ministry who declined to be named as they are not allowed to speak to the press confirmed the issue and gave details surrounding the detentions.
“There are many cases of Kenyans being held in detention camps there for various reasons. They are actually divided into various levels,” said one officer.
Some of the Kenyans being held were arrested in the streets or in spots engaging in prostitution, others had run away from their employers while others did not have valid documents, said another officer.
“For those who ran away from their jobs, their employers rushed to the police and reported that they lost gold and other jewellery stolen by the runaway workers,” said the source.
Others were waiting for their air tickets ‘to mature’, said the source adding that it was summer in Asia when many people travelled making it hard to get space in planes.
“Although relatives have sent air tickets, they have to wait until there is space in the flights to come home. So as they wait for that day, they are being held in the camp,” said another source in the ministry.
Another officer spoke of two cases in Saudi Arabia where two Kenyans recently admitted to have stolen gold from their employers and since they could not pay for it, opted to serve three months in prison.
And yet in other instances, there was a tussle between agents and families of those being held where some compensation has to be made before they can be released.
“But we are doing everything possible by liaising with our embassy in Riyadh to get all the details of the refugees so that we can help them come back home. The embassy will seek ‘consular access’ for those being held in order to compile a detailed report before ferrying them back home,” the source said.
But one of the officers warned us that, “This is a court matter and I advise you not to report about it because you will be charged with contempt of court. Stories in the newspaper don’t help, anyway.