Afro-Arab Summit: Kenya sues for better job deals for Africans

Kuwait City, Kuwait (PANA) - The poor treatment of migrant African workers in most Arab states was top on the agenda at the third African-Arab Summit which opened here Tuesday.

PANA reports that the Arabian job market showed an unprecedented demand for workers pushed by vibrant domestic economies but this is gradually turning into crises for some African states.

“We want those who are coming to work here (Kuwait) and indeed the entire Arab countries to have descent wages, be always accounted for and have better working environment,” Amina Mohamed, Kenya’s Foreign Cabinet Secretary, said at the end of a ministerial meeting in Kuwait City.

Ethiopia, one of Africa’s most populous nations, banned foreign travel especially to the Arabian Gulf states days preceding the Summit.

Kenya, Ethiopia’s next-door neighbour, was not considering a similar ban, but diplomats have asked potential migrants to avoid traveling to the Gulf States unless on expatriate terms of employment.

“We want to discuss ways of streamlining immigration issues that will see Kenyans seeking jobs in the Arabian countries to have descent wages,” Mohamed said in a foreign ministry statement.

Kenya has about 100,000 migrant workers in the Gulf States, including Bahrain, Jordan, Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

An immigration crackdown in Saudi Arabia left several foreign workers stranded or in limbo, igniting clashes between local Police and the migrants.

Ethiopia, meanwhile, is understood to have dispatched a delegation to oversee the safe and dignified return of its migrant citizens.

Saudi Arabia alone hosts 7.5 million migrant workers, mostly from Africa and India. At least 600,000 workers in the region are considered to be victims of human trafficking rings.

Jan Eliasson, the UN Deputy Secretary-General, said in early comments obtained by PANA that the status of illegal migration in the Horn of Africa region was mixed with “tragic dimensions”.

“The scenes from the drowning of a ship filled with migrants is a tragic reminder of desperate people without jobs who are paying money to get into boats then drowning,” Eliasson, attending the Afro-Arab Summit, said on a recent trip to Nairobi.

UN officials increasingly worry about the “criminalization of migration” across Africa.

Unable to create jobs, countries make border crossings illegal and these are feared to worsen the crisis.

UN agencies cite the lack of labour regulations as a key factor contributing to the poor treatment of illegal workers.

Unable to curb the mass exodus of workers, countries resorted to stiffer controls on employment agencies responsible for shipping migrant workers under lopsided employment contracts.
-0- PANA AO/VAO 19Nov2013

19 november 2013 17:42:39

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