The Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Jacob Oulanyah, has tasked the Uganda Association of External Recruitment Agencies (UAERA) to expeditiously handle the repatriation of workers stranded in foreign countries under uncomfortable working conditions.
Oulanyah said labour export agencies that are licensed and operating within the law, subscribe to UAERA through payment of insurance, and should handle repatriation or treatment of workers.
“So there should not be any burden to any parent that their child is stranded somewhere and they are looking for money to repatriate them or that they should refund money before they are brought back,” Oulanyah explained.
The Deputy Speaker made the remarks in response to a concern raised by Mukono Municipality MP, Betty Nambooze on Thursday, 01 August 2019. Nambooze said that youth who sought employment abroad through labour agencies were stuck and unable to return to Uganda.
Nambooze noted that following the Deputy Speaker’s directive on18 July 2019, several girls are stranded at the Uganda embassy in the United Arab Emirates as they wait for support to return home.
But the Deputy Speaker appears to be behind news.
According to a statement released late last month by UAERA and the Ministry of Gender and Labour indicates that none of the 69 girls that are stranded in the United Arab Emirates was recruited by UAERA members.
According to Lillian Keene Mugerwa, the Managing Director of International Employment Linkages, a member organisation of UAERA, the association does not have any obligation to repatriate the girls because they were not taken by their members.
According to the statement, all the stranded girls, who are now staying in a guest house run by Uganda’s embassy in the UAE, travelled on Visit Visas – meaning that they went on their own as tourists and not workers.
Mugerwa also noted that currently, the Government of Uganda does not permit companies to export maids/domestic workers to the UAE, Oman and Bahrain due to absence of an operational agreement.
She noted that although Uganda recently entered an MOU with UAE to allow for export of workers including maids, the agreement is not yet operational.
The Sunrise has tried to reach out to the Ministry of Labour to find out if there’s an effort by government agencies to repatriate the girls, but in vain. Our inquiry on the matter to the Director of Labour Martin Wandera went unanswered.