Kenya to build safe houses in Saudi Arabia for domestic workers amid increasing abuse

Kenya to build safe houses in Saudi Arabia for domestic workers amid increasing abuse
2 min read
03 July, 2022
The Kenyan government said it will work on setting up safe houses to host domestic workers in Saudi Arabia amid increased reports of physical and mental abuse - and even deaths - before they can be repatriated back to the east African country.
Almost 100,000 Kenyans work as domestic workers in Saudi Arabia [Getty]

Authorities in Kenya have expressed their intention to build safe houses solely for abused domestic workers in Saudi Arabia, where cases of abuses against domestic workers are often reported, according to to Arabi21.

The Kenyan government said it wants to "safeguard" workers who have been subjected to mental and physical abuse in the Gulf kingdom. Reports have also suggested that some of the abuse has resulted in a number of domestic workers’ deaths.

Kenyan Labour Minister Simon Chelugui said that Sh70 million ($593,968) will be allocated for the project, as Kenyan nationals who experience abuse while serving in Saudi Arabia "need protection until their repatriation can be managed".

"We wouldn’t want to see Kenyans stranded abroad but will be in safe homes. We will have a pilot project in Saudi Arabia, establish two homes but we will first start with one at Riyadh the headquarters and then Jeddah," he added.

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The Kenyan government said it will also adhere to the strict enforcement of worker data registration with all overseas recruitment agencies known to the authorities, before being sent to work overseas.

According to official statements, the number of Kenyans working and living in Saudi Arabia has doubled over the past three years, reaching nearly 100,000 Kenyans, most of whom are domestic workers.

However, due to concerns about workers’ welfare and safety, Kenya’s foreign ministry proposed a temporary ban on domestic workers being recruited and taken to the Saudi kingdom in September last year.

Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Macharia Kamau said that conditions for domestic workers had drastically deteriorated since 2019, with increased report of worker deaths.

Last year, at least 41 Kenyan domestic workers were reported to have died, while in 2020 the number of deaths totalled at 48.