Seven Ugandan women have been facilitated to return home from a shelter jointly operated by the Saudi Ministry of Labour and Ministry of Social Affairs in Riyadh, following intervention by the Ugandan Embassy in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
This brought relief to affected families whose loved ones were stranded at the shelter due to failure to pay for their return air tickets home.
A total of 24 Ugandan women were found at the shelter.
The intervention was made by senior officials from the Embassy of Uganda in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, led by the Ambassador, H.E. Dr. Sheikh Rashid Yahya Ssemuddu and Mr Daniel Mulekezi.
This followed complaints from young women of Ugandan origin who called the Embassy seeking its intervention in a bid to get their freedom.
“We are in daily contact with them and efforts are underway to have the rest of the girls return home in the coming few days and we are working closely with Mr Pious Bigirimana – The PS, Ministry of Labor,” said the Ambassador.
The development comes at a time when the Minister of Gender, Labour and Social Development, Hon. Wilson Mukasa Muruli announced a ban on the recruitment and export of housemaids.
Video of Ugandan ambassador visiting jailed girls
The shelter was set up to house migrant workers with pending issues, including those who abscond and run away from their employers, those who are stranded and cannot pay for their tickets home and illegal workers caught in sting operations by authorities in Saudi Arabia.
“We discovered that many of the young girls were brought to Saudi Arabia on promises that could not be met by those who recruited them. Others were young and travelled on falsified documents. On reaching Saudi Arabia, they couldn’t take on the work load and therefore refused to work. Most of the cases involved human trafficking,” said Ambassador Ssemuddu, following the meeting and in-depth interviews of the young women at the Shelter at the Weekend.
The Ambassador welcomed the measures taken by the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, saying that it should help government to re-establish full control over the matter of labour export with respect to housemaids and other categories of domestic workers.
The Embassy has also received communication from the Ministry of Labour of Saudi Arabia, that the Ministry was planning to schedule a meeting with its counterpart in Uganda to discuss modalities for implementation of the bilateral agreement signed between the two trade partners last year.
While details of the plans have not been shared yet, it’s expected that the meeting would address how the two countries would work towards eradication of existing problems and challenges in the labour export value chain.
Meanwhile the Embassy of Uganda in Saudi Arabia is working closely with Samaoc Holdings Limited, a company contracted by the government of Uganda to monitor and oversee Ugandan migrant workers in Saudi Arabia.
The company has started operation in Uganda and is currently in the process of establishing working relations with all licensed labour export companies through activation of their access to the new recruitment and monitoring platform.
Video of the girls dancing after being rescued
The internet-based system is designed to ensure that only licensed companies will have access to the Saudi market, and that they would in turn deal with only licensed companies in Saudi Arabia through a password-protected secure access.
The platform is expected to be integrated with the External Employment Management Information System (EEMIS) of the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development later this year.
Said a relieved Ambassador Ssemuddu in his office in Riyadh today:“Our people should remain calm because we have known all the problems and their sources and we are going to deal with them, We have discovered that a big number of our girls is being recruited by Kenyan recruitment Companies to Oman, By working with all the stakeholders amongst government ministries and departments, Our people will be linked to decent employers through equally decent processes following the law. When we do this, we shall not have any serious problems but only some challenges.”