Mutua leaves for Saudi Arabia amid pressure over mistreatment of Kenyan workers

By , K24 Digital
On Wed, 2 Nov, 2022 12:50 | 2 mins read
Mutua leaves for Saudi Arabia amid pressure over mistreatment of Kenyan workers
Foreign and Diaspora Affairs CS Alfred Mutua. PHOTO/Courtesy

Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Alfred Mutua has left the country for an official visit to Saudi Arabia.

Mutua had promised to travel to Saudi Arabia this week to discuss the plight of domestic workers in the country in the wake of a surge in cases of mistreatment and deaths.

The visit follows talks with the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to Kenya Khalid Abdullah Alsalman on October 28.

During the meeting, Mutua said, he discussed with the ambassador issues of mutual interest including the welfare of Kenyans in the Gulf country.

Early this week, the former Machakos governor also met employment agent representatives who recruit Kenyans for jobs in Saudi Arabia and other regions.

Mutua said he wanted to understand their issues before travelling to Saudi Arabia.

"The meeting was informative with complex mind-boggling revelations and a deep cry for help in many instances.

"My mission was to understand the issues so that as a government we can ensure that Kenyans in the Diaspora are safe and sound," he said in a statement.

The CS further said he had heard the agents and gathered information that contradicts what the media has been reporting.

"The information gathered paints a different story from the blame-game trending in the media channels.

"We want to move to a point where we get to the root cause of the challenges that Kenyans face while working with governments and states that are offering opportunities for our people," he stated.

The CS insisted that the government must keep its citizens working outside the country safe and sound.

"I will be travelling to Saudi Arabia this week to meet the authorities and Kenyan Diaspora with a view to gathering more information that will enable me to institute long-lasting solutions to the challenges faced by Kenyan workers.

"The government will also facilitate the recruitment agencies to be able to conduct their business successfully for the benefit of Kenyans," he added.

In September last year, foreign affairs Principal Secretary Macharia Kamau said 89 Kenyans, most of them domestic workers, died in Saudi Arabia under suspicious circumstances in the past two years.

“We have compared the deaths, so it's not possible that you have three deaths in Qatar, one in UAE, two in Kuwait, nine in Oman, two in Bahrain and you have 40-50 in the other country because the number may be larger but they are not that larger. It’s not possible that these young people are all dying of cardiac arrest,” Kamau said.

There are claims that the Ministry of Labour and the government of Kenya, in general, has done little to protect the welfare of Kenyans working in the Middle East.

Mutua's pledge

Mutua had during his vetting for the CS post on October 17 said he is keen on ending the suffering of the domestic workers.

"It is unfortunate that they are being mistreated. We have lost 85 Kenyans in the last three months. This is because there is a systematic failure in recruitment. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is friendly and is not involved," Mutua said.

"There has been a lot of victim-blaming and if cleared, I will ensure to work with the Labour Ministry to ensure stringent measures are put in place to stop this. We will investigate the deaths and will send a message to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to book," he added.