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No sympathy for Ugandan laborers in Middle East who left irregularly – Official

Martin Wandera the Director Labor, Employment and Industrial Relations in the Ministry of Gender, Labor and Social Development has outlined government’s position on workers stranded in the Middle East.

Kampala, Uganda |  THE INDEPENDENT |  The government has said it does not have any responsibility over nationals who went to various countries across the world through informal ways. Hundreds of Ugandans are stranded in the Middle East in particular, after losing jobs as a result of COVID-19 lockdowns. 

Speaking during a virtual meeting on Thursday, Martin Wandera the Director Labor, Employment and Industrial Relations in the Ministry of Gender, Labor and Social Development said that already 680 Ugandans have been reported to be in distress in this period.

But, he says, the majority of those complaining went informally disregarding all proper channels through which they should have traveled in the search for employment overseas. The channels also include travelling through the 190 licensed labour externalization agencies. 

Wandera added that while the government does not authorize workers to go to Iraq for any other employment apart from security, a number of Ugandans involved in domestic work and other jobs have contacted the Ministry that they need to be helped to return home. 

Wandera says that they are still baffled on how to help them but notes that those who went through proper means will come back once the lockdown on air transport is lifted. He says that the Ministry has resolved that the employers and agencies that took this category of people will have to incur the costs of their transport.

However, the exact number of Ugandans who lost their jobs with massive salary cuts and layoffs in the UAE remains unknown even to the labour externalization agencies that coordinate their employment and stay in the The Middle East. The Uganda Association of External Recruitment Agencies says this statistic will be availed by the government when a status report is published. 

Enid Nambuya, the Executive Director of the association says that some of the Ugandans whose contracts expired during the lockdown are still at the houses where they were previously employed, whereas those that are distressed and can’t live with their employers anymore are either at the embassies, deportation centres and police stations. 

Commenting on the horrific stories of torture at the hands of Arab masters told of working in several Arab countries, Nambuya said the post-COVID government should be thinking of ways of ensuring that employers in the host countries respect contracts. 

She suggests the Uganda Human Rights Commission could establish a desk in countries where Uganda has embassies to look at issues of workers’ rights such as day-offs, medical care and to provide swift assistance in case of distress.   

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3 comments

  1. Whether within or outsides the borders; a country like Uganda whose leadership does not love its citizens, is also the master of indifference to their plights. In other words, the citizens are there only to be used, abused and/or exploited. Otherwise, even convicted criminals deserve some human sympathy.

  2. How these Ugandans ended up wherever they are, doesn’t stop their being Ugandan citizens and also the responsibility of the Ugandan government to help them.

    Every year government has always greedily & gladly received their remittances while recklessly spending the remitted dollars purchasing classified equipment.

    And now in the these Ugandan expatriates’ hour of greatest need, government is willing to casually push them under the figurative bus claiming the country has no money to repatriate them while on weekly basis it passes supplementary budgets of trillions of shilling to be spent things like masks, radios, tv sets that no Ugandan has requested for and also to pay bills of failing foreign owned companies like NYTIL.

    These very government officials blaming the Ugandan expatriates for irregular migration are responsible for the failing economy that has resulted in the very predictably high unemployment rates, corruption & related nepotism and tribalism that in first instance forced these people to emigrate & emigrate irregularly.

    Government should use some of the billions from the never ending supplementary budgets to transport home all those Ugandan expatriates that desire to return and also provide free quarantine.

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