The Kenyan government has announced plans to establish safe houses as part of its efforts to safeguard Kenyan migrant workers in the Middle East.
Labor Cabinet Secretary Simon Chelugui on Tuesday said the government has set aside Sh70 million to build safe houses in Saudi Arabia where cases of torture and death of Kenyan workers have been rampant.
Several domestic workers in Saudi Arabia have reported being subjected to psychological and physical torture by their employers, with some cases leading to death.
CS Chelugui also announced that the government has begun tracing Kenyans suffering abroad as it puts in place stringent measures to control illegal labor immigration, with all private recruiting agents being required to register with the National Employment Authority (NEA) to be allowed to export labor.
"We will enforce that requirement that all private recruiters register with NEA be allowed to recruit any Kenyan to work abroad. As a quick measure to save those suffering abroad and more so in Saudi Arabia, we shall open safe homes to protect those being mistreated as we plan for their repatriation,” Chelugui said during the official launch of the National Job Fair in Mombasa.
"Some job placement companies have taken advantage of policy gaps to exploit Kenyans but now with the new policies, they will have to comply or else they will close their shops.”
He indicated that a majority of the unregistered job recruitment agents operate in the Coast region where some are used to recruit youth to terror groups.
"In the last two years, we have registered 97 cases of Kenyans who have died while working abroad but we want to end it," Chelugui added.
The number of Kenyans working and living in Saudi Arabia rose from 55,000 in 2019 to 97,000 this year, according to data by the Parliament’s Committee on Labor and Social Welfare.