The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has recommended a temporary ban of recruitment and export of domestic workers to Saudi Arabia until adequate protection measures are put in place.
Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Macharia Kamau told MPs that it had written to the Labour Ministry in July to impose a temporary blockade.
“As additional measures to protect the rights and welfare of migrant workers are put in place, the ministry recommends for temporary ban of recruitment and export of domestic workers to Saudi Arabia,” Mr Kamau said.
Mr Kamau said since a parliamentary committee visit in 2019 to Saudi Arabia, the situation had drastically worsened with increased death and distress cases.
He said in 2019, three deaths were reported to the Kenyan embassy rising to 48 in 2020, and 41 so far this year. Distress cases rose from 88 in 2019/20 and 1,025 in 2020/21.
“The statics indicate the dire reality that we face. It warrants bold and decisive action to curb further suffering of Kenyan domestic workers in Saudi Arabia,” he said.
Mr Kamau added that Kenyan should not be seen to be condoning such high number of deaths and distress to its citizens, majority of whom are young and vulnerable women.”
He said the Labour Ministry and the National Employment Authority have mandate to ensure protection of Kenyan workers abroad.
Mr Macharia told the National Assembly’s Labour committee that the Foreign Ministry plays no role in labour migration and foreign employment of Kenyans.
“Indeed, the ministry only learns about the plight of Kenyan migrant workers when they die or are in distress abroad,” he told the team chaired Kabinga Wachira.