October 20—Media reports concerning the multiple deaths of Ugandans working in the Gulf states and particularly cases of suicide, has prompted local labour recruiters to offer assurances to potential migrant workers.
“Some things in the reports need to be scrutinized. Many names have no connection with the recruitment companies. Those with big problems are those who were trafficked and some (taken) on an individual basis,” Tumwine Kameraho, the Chairman of Uganda Association of External Recruitment Agency (UAERA) said during a news conference.
Recruitment and management of those seeking the deserts for job opportunities has become a lucrative business line in Uganda due to seasonal demand for manual and domestic labourers in the Middle East and Gulf states. The contracts are usually fixed with a specific time limit, but the monthly wages are on average are three or four times higher than a mid-level civil servant in the government. Despite frequent cases of people being over-worked and sexual harassment, there is no shortage of new applicants whenever recruitment is in progress. The recruiting companies, often representing other companies in the destination countries, earn commissions.
The allegations of 48 Ugandans having died in unclear circumstances since January this year, were made by members on the Parliamentary Committee on Gender, Labour and Social Development. However Kameraho, who chairs an association of 75 licensed and legally approved companies, said they have a working relationship with employers to protect Ugandans working in these countries.
“We have a relationship with the Saudi Arabian government, Lebanon among others. We have guidelines on how to take those girls to work in Saudi Arabia,” he said.
He denied any claims of foul play, at least on the part of their umbrella group concerning the welfare of their recruits. He said, “In our contracts, there are sections talking about insurance and compensation for those who might experience problems even death. We have data on those Ugandans who have rightly been deployed in Arab countries as well as those who have died there.” He said if any of their members is involved in dubious acts, their licenses will be revoked.