The dreams of dozens of Kenyans to secure lucrative jobs in the United Arab Emirates were dashed after they were allegedly abandoned in Dubai by a Mombasa-based recruiting agent.
The jobseekers, who paid between Sh150,000 and Sh200,000 to secure employment in Dubai, were promised jobs that could see them earn Sh90,000 per month.
Some of the victims, who have since returned into the country are demanding justice.
Ms Rahmna Hemed, 52, said she took a Sh800,000 loan to secure jobs for her four children in Dubai.
“I withdrew my children from Qatar where they earned Sh40,000 hoping to secure them a well paying job in Dubai only to be duped by an agent. I have not known peace since then,” Ms Hemed said.
Mr Amani Hamisi Juma, who left a security job in Qatar where he earned Sh40,000 per month, said after paying Sh200,000, the recruiting agent abandoned them in Dubai.
“We were living 50 people in one room, both men and women. We were never allowed to go out, it was like prison. We sneaked and went to the Kenyan embassy but we were never assisted,” Mr Juma said.
He said in another house, there were 100 people from Congo, Kenya, Tanzania, Cameroon and Uganda.
He said they have been banned from the UAE.
He said due to the 2022 World Cup in Dubai, many dubious recruiting agents have emerged.
Mr Juma, said the agents take Kenyans to UAE using visiting visa only to be enslaved.
“Our visas expired before we were hired, men and women were squeezed in one small room,” he said.
Ms Mwanamvua Juma said most of her friends resorted to prostitution due to lack of jobs.
“She [recruiting agent] lied to us, when I asked her for a job, the woman offered a house help job which I declined. I had paid Sh200,000 for a well-paying job,” she said.
Muslims for Human Rights (Muhuri), Rapid Response Officer Francis Auma urged Kenyans to be careful.
“This is human trafficking. Our embassy should start working to protect Kenyans in the Arabian countries. But Kenyans should deal with agents that are accredited by the government,” Mr Auma said.
Most of the Kenyans recruited by a Mombasa-based agent are said to be stranded and suffering in Dubai.
“The embassy should raid the woman’s house and rescue our colleagues. Some Kenyans travelled [to Dubai] using fake documents,” said Mohammed Komora.
“She picked us form the airport and treated us well before she confiscated our passports and started treating us like slaves. Our embassy in Dubai did not help us,” said Mr Douglas Mwazombo.
Mr Jamal Salim, another victim, blames the embassy for failing to protect Kenyans.
“Our parents sold their gold chains, earrings and rings to secure us jobs only to be duped by a Kenyan,” he said.