Over the past few years we have had cases of abuse of the Ugandan girls working as domestic workers in some Arab countries. Some of the cases have been really gruesome and dehumanizing.
From the onset, the government of Uganda has been involved in trying to arrest the situation as soon as it became clear that some Ugandan citizens were working in deplorable conditions and earning meager payments if they were paid at all.
Not only were efforts geared towards rescuing those with emergency cases, but the government immediately started working towards streamlining the labor export industry altogether to cover up the obvious loopholes that were being abused by middle men and employers.
This was done through ministry of labour and through other diplomatic channels in the countries where mistreatment was being reported and prevalent. Many milestones have since been accomplished and the lives of Ugandan citizens in the Arab countries are getting better.
Since most of these efforts are institutional and inter-state, a section of Ugandans have been misled to think that the Government of Uganda is doing nothing to protect its citizens in these countries, which is far from the truth.
Opposition propagandists continue to circulate Social media with unverified stories and fear mongering clips of Ugandans “dying” in the Arab countries. Please note, all this is done, yet no single effort has been done to help out these dying Ugandans.
Opposition key board warriors especially those of National Unity Platform (NUP) continue to create fear among citizens and criticize the expatriation of Ugandans to others countries. All this is blamed on the government’s failure to employ its citizens.
Let’s put things in proper context! Uganda’s population is at 45.74 million people, and every year over 30000 students graduate from higher institutions of learning from over 32 universities in the country. This number does not include the graduates from technical institutions. We have to first acknowledge the fact that this number can’t be fully absorbed by the labor market.
While the Government continues to create jobs through different initiatives and development programs, the demand for jobs viz -a vis the population increase is high and this makes it inevitable for Ugandans to seek jobs in other countries.
In 2021 while on a business trip, the President, Yoweri Museveni met with the Executive leaders of the Association of Ugandans living and working in United Arab Emirates. The president informed the members that Ugandan Government would set up a shelter in UAE to shelter girls that get stranded in the country after being trafficked of abused by their employers.
Their contribution to the development through the money sent back home every year cannot be ignored. According to the Ambassador of Uganda Zaake Kibedi in UAE Ugandans living and working in UAE sent home over $200 million by December 2021.
The Chairperson Nsubuga Abdulbasit emphasized the need for Ugandans to join the association in order to get the benefits of knowing each other and protecting and accounting for each person in UAE.
This was to supplement the efforts that different departments in the ministry of labor and foreign affairs were already doing to cover the loop holes in the labor Export market.
Government has purposed to train departing Ugandans to the UAE countries to ensure that they understand different aspects of their expectations. This includes remuneration expectations and cultural differences in these countries.
It will also soon start reviewing and translating contracts for the employees so that both parties agree and understand the terms of the contract and what each other’s obligations are. This eliminates fraud and distorted expectations.
Liaison officers have been established in the different countries to ensure that people have near by people to run to for help in case of abuse of contracts or any other challenges that the worker might face.
Accessibility of phones is an aspects that has been added to the contracts to ensure that the employees stay in touch with their families but can also reach out for help incase of help as a result of domestic abuse.
There are many opportunities that can be utilized by Ugandans through external employment. The government is doing it’s best to identify, streamline and sensitize Ugandans on how best to take up these opportunities in a secure and safe working environment.