Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary, Ambassador Kamau Macharia while addressing the newly elected Members of Parliament during their induction earlier this week, attributed the numerous cases of mistreatment of migrant workers in the Gulf States to the cultural differences between Kenyan migrant workers and their Saudi employers.
“Sometimes our people will not be so subservient and when they go to these countries under contract.” The PS said, adding that, “Countries like Saudi Arabia their traditions around housework are very ancient, let us put it that way. So you find the people who suffer the terrible beatings, and abuse are usually people of that category (house helps).”
According to PS Kamau, the ministry of Labour needs to provide training to those seeking household jobs as they are over 100 thousand Kenyans who are thriving in other different industries in the same country.
“I urge you to be careful that as we deal with this problem, we do not destroy this amazing opportunity we have for jobs for young Kenyans in the Middle East.” Said PS Kamau
The PS who has since been under backlash over his remarks, with Kenyans branding him “insensitive” to the plight of Kenyans working in Saudi Arabia. Here are Kenyans reactions:
“Wee Kamau go get hired by these people as a driver and you will know how they are ,so long as you are their employee/slave they will never respect you or tambua you no matter what the respect you accord them ,go try baba,,,they see people like work machines and give them no value at all😢,” GG.
“Let that man go and sleep he doesn’t know what he is talking,” Safina Amutabi. “I don’t understand this CS, he’s taking Kenyan workers in those countries like poor donkeys who have to be beaten to work. They deserve humane working conditions,” Messytipsy Kanyingi.
Other Kenyans on Twitter agreed with the PS sentiments but still had this to say: “PS Macharia may be right…but it’s not possible to agree with him. Why should the treatment of Kenyasn in Saudi lead sometimes to death?” asked John Ngigi. “So you back them up for the killing 😭😭😭💔 there is God in heaven 🙏” Max.
Earlier this Month, the Government established an Oversight and Community Feedback Mechanism as well as a toll-free line 0800222223 which migrant Kenyans can use to send alerts to the government when they are in danger.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia government also set up complaints and communication channel where any aggrieved migrant worker can send an alert to the security agencies through the unified number 19911.
Even with the progression and establishment of frameworks to help migrant Kenyan workers… A dark cloud causing a loop still remains: Are Kenyans angered by the facts given by PS Macharia or is it the “insensitive nature” he says it is?