Kenyan women stuck in a container in Saudi Arabia
Last updated on 29 Jul 2012 00:00
By Kenfrey Kiberenge in London
More than 100 Kenyan women are stuck in a container at the country’s embassy in Saudi Arabia, a senior Government officer has revealed.
Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary Thuita Mwangi received flak from Kenyans in Britain when he said his ministry had set up a “container” for distressed workers.
The PS was speaking on Saturday at the Kenya Diaspora Conference at the Church House in London. He did not expound on the nature of the container, but added that 30 of the women spend the nights on floors.
A woman in the audience questioned why the Government had refused to return the women to Kenya, instead choosing to harbour them in a container.
Mwangi, however, said the container was set up as a safe transit house after the number of distressed Kenyan workers in Saudi Arabia skyrocketed.
He said between January and April this year, more than 200 Kenyans had sought help from the embassy after falling out with their employers.
The PS explained that it was impractical to accommodate such high numbers at the official residence of Kenya’s ambassador.
“We had reached a crisis point. We made the best out of a desperate situation,” said Mwangi. He said the law in Saudi Arabia that dictates anybody leaving the country must have a departing visa complicated the situation.
In other instances, he said, the employer will have a dispute with the employee meaning securing a visa is a long process. “So we house them there so that we can facilitate their return and protect them,” said the PS. Mwangi was presenting on the proposed Diaspora policy that seeks to address concerns of Kenyans abroad.