A nominated senator from Mombasa county has issued Saudi Arabia with a seven-day ultimatum to release Kenyan domestic workers detained by Saudi failure to which she will lead activists to paralyse activities at its embassy in Nairobi.
Senator Emma Mbura also demanded that bodies of Kenyan workers who died in Saudi Arabia be brought back to Kenya for decent burial. She threatened to lobby Kenyans to push for the closure of the embassy if her demands are not met.
Speaking at a Mombasa hotel after meeting a family seeking government’s support in tracing the body of their mother who is suspected to have died in Saudi in 2009, Mbura claimed more than 50,000 Kenyans are trapped in the Middle East country, where they are suffering in the hands of their employers.
Many Kenyan domestic workers in Saudi Arabia have complained of being tortured by their employers. Mbura blamed “sour diplomacy relations” between Kenya and Saudi Arabia for soaring cases of Kenyan domestic workers’ mistreatment in the country.
“The government should negotiate with Saudi government to release petty offenders who escaped from their employers before their contracts ended,” she said.
Citing a recent campaign that saw leaders lead destruction of killer brews, Mbura threatened recruitment agencies who continue to send Kenyans to Saudi that they would face a similar wrath witnessed in flushing out illegal liquor operators.
Mbura cautioned the youth and women against traveling to Saudi Arabia until the pending issues are resolved. “The relations between Kenya and Saudi Arabia should be reviewed to ensure our brothers and sisters don’t die like flies in Middle East.
We have been hospitable to many of their citizens,” she said. She also challenged the government to facilitate the Kenyan embassy in Saudi Arabia to ensure that their funds are enough to address emergencies.
Mbura’s move comes even as the Saudi government blamed Kenyan authorities for allegedly failing to guide jobseekers going to the kingdom. Saudi Embassy in Nairobi told a local newspaper that only people who break laws find themselves in trouble.
“It is against Saudi laws for anyone to mistreat any foreign worker. There are channels to follow if one is mistreated.
“Maybe because a large number of them are not well educated, they do not know where to go. Maybe the Kenyan embassy in Riyadh should guide them,” Saudi Embassy Spokesman Ali al-Othman told the paper.
Meanwhile, the family of Mwanamie Mwitani, who allegedly died in Saudi in 2009, has pleaded with the government to unearth the mystery as the body was never brought home for burial. The deceased’s son, Ali Matano, said his mother left for work in Saudi in 2008.
“In 2009, we received a phone call from the embassy informing us that our mother had died and an embassy official later visited us to confirm this and promised to send the body within three months but no further communication was made,” he said.