State House probes death of Ugandan workers in Kuwait

Tuesday September 10 2019

Anti-corruption Unit head. Lt C

Anti-corruption Unit head. Lt Col Edith Nakalema 

By EPHRAIM KASOZI

The State House Anti-Corruption Unit is investigating circumstances under which three migrant workers from Uganda died in Kuwait, officials have revealed.

It is alleged that the workers died in June and their bodies are in a morgue.
The deceased have been identified as Charles Bekalaze from Kiboga, John Torres Mujuzi from Kyengera, and Sarah Achieng from Bugiri.
Officials, who claimed anonymity, said the migrant workers were recruited by Spotlight International Recruitment Agency Limited.

“We are pursuing the matter to establish how these people ended up in Kuwait and what led to their deaths. We are also getting in touch with authorities to have the bodies brought back for burial,” the source said.

The Anti-corruption Unit headed by Lt Col Edith Nakalema jointly with the police are undertaking the investigations.
The source also said they are investigating circumstances through which Labour export companies recruited a total of 91 female migrant workers who are stuck in Middle East countries.

In a September 2 complaint to the State House Anti-corruption Unit, local organisation, Make a Child Smile, revealed that they have received several complaints from Ugandans working in Middle East.

“The girls went to the Middle East in pursuit of jobs and greener pastures but were not enlightened about the poor working conditions they would be subjected to. They have raised complaints of mistreatment from their employers in terms of being denied food, being overworked and raped,” reads the complaint.

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They are also denied medication yet they develop conditions such as acute back pain, swollen legs, and burns from the hectic work.
According to the letter, the migrant workers cannot leave since their travel documents are withheld by their bosses, some are not paid for their work so they cannot afford to buy tickets to return, while others are not allowed to leave until their contracts expire.

“The bosses stress that they paid a lot of money to the Ugandan agents and hence use that as an excuse to hold them,” reads the complaint.

The Executive Director of Uganda Association of External Recruitment Agencies, Ms Enid Nambuya, said she learnt of the deaths through media.

“When such incidents happen, they are handled by authorities and reports are furnished at the Foreign Affairs ministry,” Ms Nambuya said.

Ms Nambuya said the complaints are about human resource management and the employer and employee should respect each other.
She attributed the complaints to failure of the migrant workers to adapt to the culture in the host countries in terms of feeding, language and frequency of meals.

ekasozi@ug.nationmedia.com

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