By Alpha Bedoh Kamara
Poor economies, unstable political atmosphere, unemployment and poverty are forcing Africans to travel en masse to Saudi Arabia to embrace further social injustice, abuse and violations in the hands of Saudi nationals who still believe nationals from African countries must still be in slavery.
The abuse of Africans seeking job opportunities in Saudi Arabia has reached an unprecedented level so much that some African countries have started taking actions while others are still thinking over what approach to take to protect their citizens.
The government of Uganda said on Friday it will stop sending housemaids to Saudi Arabia and the ban will remain until working conditions in Saudi Arabia are “deemed fitting,” the Ugandan government said.
The two nations had signed a deal in July for the deployment of university graduates to work in oil-rich Saudi Arabia. It was seen as a way of addressing high unemployment rates among young people in Uganda.
But the Ugandan government has received complaints of workers being treated inhumanely by their employers in Saudi Arabia, according to the Ministry of Gender, Labor and Social Welfare.
Indonesia, Ethiopia and the Philippines are also reported to have also banned the flow of migrant workers to Saudi Arabia until they could be assured the workers were given basic labor rights.
It’s understandable that seeking jobs abroad and opportunities by nationals of low income economies is rational but that does not in any way presupposed they should be treated inhumanely, used and abused.
However, while this debacle continues to confront African workers, African leaders are thinking of ways to continue to stay in power to enrich themselves and cronies and care less about the fate of their people. And as long as African governments continue to harbour undemocratic tendencies and compromising negative values the continent will ever remained haunted by such poor stories as is happening now in Saudi Arabia.
Africans are migrating because their welfare is being compromised by their governments. Millions cannot access pipe-borne water, electricity and other basic amenities. Education and healthcare are either poor or not available for millions of poor Africans while children and women are suffering and dying in thousands to curable diseases.
Its time African governments wake up and stand to the challenges. The people are suffering, they are crying for a change, a change that can positively impact on the lives of children and women who are the most vulnerable and worst affected by insincerity and neglect of their governments.
Uganda, Indonesia, Ethiopia and the Philippines are taking actions now to ensure Saudi address the problem but what are these governments doing to ensure security, political stability and better job opportunities in their countries?
Bad governance in Africa is reason for the mistreatment and enslavement of African migrants in Saudi Arabia. And while we continue to ponder our thoughts over the action by the Ugandans, West Africa is yet to say a word over reported abuse of her people in Saudi Arabia. There are thousands of West Africans working in hideous circumstances in Saudi Arabia just to help keep their families back home in better footing.
According to a Thursday 2nd April 2015 story published by The Guardian, http://www.theguardian.com/, (…women from Sierra Leone formerly employed as domestic workers in private Kuwaiti households said they had been “sold like slaves” by recruitment agents to families in the Kuwaiti capital and then resold multiple times.
Each said that they had paid about £1,000 ($1,480) to recruitment agents in Sierra Leone on the promise of jobs as nurses in hospitals or in the hotel industry, only to find on arrival that they were to be offered to families as housemaids and expected to work for up to 22 hours a day.
“[The agents] took us to their offices and people would come to look at us,” said one woman who worked as a nurse in Sierra Leone. “If they said, ‘I want this person’, they took you to their house.”
Adama, 24, said that after being selected by a Kuwaiti family she was taken to their house and treated “like a slave”.
“You have to work 24 hours [with] no day off. You can never leave the house … You are not allowed to use mobile phones. These people are not good.”
She raises her skirt to reveal a deeply scarred leg. Adama claims her employer paid her nothing for her work and deliberately spilled hot oil on her while she was cooking. “I was crying, [but] she did not even look at me. I said, ‘Madam, why you do this to me?’ She told me that I’m a slave … I’m too slow, I’m not fast enough.”…)
The stories are many, the horror continues unabated: On 19th December 2013 Chika Oduah reported in http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ – (Nigeria’s Ethiopians Protest Abuse In Saudi Arabia -…While thousands are decrying the reported abuse of Ethiopian migrants in Saudi Arabia, one woman hopes to stir more activism in Africa
“I couldn’t sleep. If you see the pictures… “Meseret’s voice cracks before it trails off, before she lets out an exasperated sigh and swipes away the loose strands of hair around her face.
“As I am talking to you. They are suffering. Imagine, a woman getting raped by 20 men.”
At that point tears flow down her cheeks. She wipes a few of them away. More fall down.
Against the heaviness of her sorrow, her voice rises in an attempt to regain composure. “The human rights community is sleeping on this,” she says….)
Africans are crying, in silence and succumbing to all forms of degradation in their quest to help back loved ones in Africa. African migrants want better opportunities for their people back home and expect their governments to make use of the natural potentials abound in the continent and better the lives of the people.
In conclusion, as Chika Oduah reported: “As I am talking to you. They are suffering. Imagine, a woman getting raped by 20 men.”