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29 Jul 2021

Steve Otieno, Nation (Kenya)

Kenya: Trade union blames recruitment agencies for exposing workers to ‘modern slavery’ in the Gulf

Balconies of condominium building inhabited by migrant workers, Deira district, Dubai

"The government has also been criticised for ignoring the plight of many Kenyans who have reported their suffering while working in the Gulf. Cotu Secretary General Francis Atwoli said it was high time all the agencies taking Kenyans to work in the Middle East were shut.

Foreign relations and employment, he said, should be discussed between governments and not agencies “that have neither offices nor properly listed officials...When you hear the CS, or PS of Labour commissioning the issue of Kenyans going either to Saudi, in Riyadh, or Jeddah, Doha in Qatar or anywhere in the Gulf to look for employment; that is an application of indirect slavery officially supported by the Kenyan government through the Ministry of Labour,” Mr Atwoli said at Cotu offices in Nairobi...

But Mr Atwoli bashed the agencies, saying they bribe officials in the Labour ministry to get licences to enslave young women and men. “If you happen to go to the Jomo Kenyatta (international) Airport in the morning when the Qatar airways airline arrives, you will witness coffins coming out of that airline. Coffins of our young women who are maimed, raped and killed in the Gulf,” he said.