Friday July 4 2014

Defuse unemployment ticking time bombs

The detention of 250 Ugandan young women in several holding camps in Kuwait, in attempts to flee torture, must force us to care more about our citizens.

As Ugandans, let us ask and answer questions of why young Ugandans must be forced into the risky recruitment to work as sex slaves and household labourers in the Middle East and eleswhere.

This forcible resort to prostitution as well as running drugs in eastern Asia by our girls and boys means conditions at home must be harsh. And it must be now that our policy makers faced up to what drives this human trafficking and illegal dealing in drugs.

As Ugandans, we must all be furious that 15 Ugandans are trafficked as sex slaves and labourers daily. We must equally be angry that 23 Ugandans face execution, and another 24 are serving life in jail and 28 more awaiting sentencing over drug trafficking in China.

This dishonour must stop and should all pull our heads out of the sand.

Clearly, these young Ugandans are all but victims of tough economic circumstances back home. And because this problem of joblessness is not about to end, government must confront head-on this matter which forces our young girls and boys to abandon home for the uncertain world abroad.

The country must not take lightly World Bank figures which indicate more than 62 per cent or 4.5 million of our 7.2 million youth are unemployed. Yet each year, more 400,000 young Ugandan graduates are released to the job market.

What is more, the Uganda National Household Survey 2012/13 by the Uganda Bureau of Statistics says on our hands are another nearly 60 per cent of the population below 18 years of age. This means 20.4 million Ugandan children are soon joining the jobless ranks.

For sure, these are compelling statistics for immediate action to refocus our attention to the problem of youth unemployment or else we wait to reap the unwelcome returns.

In the short-term, government must secure from slips our immigration policy and enforcement. This means the immigration department, the Anti-narcotics police, and the Ant-human Trafficking Desk must make trafficking in drugs and humans very risky for perpetrators. Over all, the realisation by Gender, Labour and Social Development minister Mary Karooro Okurut though coming late, is crucial.

Indeed, government must create more jobs or our girls and boys now flocking abroad are forced to return home to haunt us as we will be obliged to carry the burden of punishment of youth unemployment around our necks as reminder of our inaction. Government should do more to save the unemployed Ugandans from carrying the tag of dishonour as sex slaves and drug mules in eastern Asia and the Middle East.