Though it’s commendable that the government has come up with new rules to help regulate the working conditions of Kenyans in the Middle East, it’s highly unlikely that they will have the required impact.
The plain truth is that many of the Kenyans who go overseas in search of greener pastures end up in modern slavery.
A number have been battered to death by their employers. Today, many relatives live in constant fear of dreadful news. Once out there, these Kenyans are on their own and our foreign missions are often of no help.
Some are stripped of their travel and other documents as soon as recruitment agencies hand them over to their employers.
The government will now ensure strict licensing of the agencies and the training of Kenyans going overseas.
The ministry has also opened labour offices in Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to assist Kenyans to adjust to life in those countries.
This is crucial, but it will take much more to prevent the harassment and torture of Kenyans by their foreign employers. It’s desperation that drives these young people overseas.
We urge the government to seek a commitment from host countries on their safety. Before they leave the country, we hope the Kenyans will be sensitised on their rights and the need to urgently seek help when in trouble.