S/Leoneans Languish In Kuwait

 

The Ambassador of Sierra Leone to Kuwait, Her Excellency Madam Haja Isatu Thomas has, in a recent interview, spoken on the plight of female Sierra Leoneans that were trafficked to that country.

Madam Thomas explained that these young girls are lured by fictitious agents into believing that when they are taken to Kuwait they will have fanciful jobs, education and other opportunities waiting for them. The unfortunate thing, she said, is that on their arrival they quickly find out that those promises were illusory. Mostly, she said, they are employed as “khardama” – domestic servants, the equivalent, she said, of being a slave.

Madam Thomas further said that the girls pay for being taken as domestic slaves to Kuwait. The girls pay between USD1, 000 and USD2000 to their traffickers. Because the Government of Sierra Leone has banned the recruitment of girls for employment as domestic helps in Kuwait, the traffickers use the back door. They take the girls through Guinea, Liberia, Guinea Bissau, Ghana and Nigeria. Once they reach with their victims in Kuwait, the traffickers sell them as slaves and abandon them.

The girls, Madam Thomas said, cannot cope with the work as Kuwaiti houses and families are large. The girls, she said, are forced to work 24 hours a day, non-stop. Unable to bear the strains and stresses, she said, they end up running away, adding that when they do, their masters or mistresses report to the police that they have stolen monies from them and have ran away. When the police arrest them, she said, they are taken to a particular location they refer to as shelter. That is the only time Madam Thomas said the Embassy gets to know that they are in Kuwait.

Madam Thomas lamented that although the Embassy is doing a lot to help such girls in distress, social media reports that nothing is been done to help the victims. That, she said, is the unfortunate side of the story, as no effort is made to get the other side of the story.

The Embassy, she said, cannot do much because the girls do not arrive in Kuwait through official channels and are not registered with the embassy on arrival. “We only know about them when they encounter problems,” Madam Thomas said, adding that when she arrived in Kuwait there were only six Sierra Leonean girls at the shelter but that there are now thirty of them of which twenty-four of them have been prepared by the Kuwaiti government for repatriation to Sierra Leone. Madam Thomas said we should thank the Kuwait government as they are the only ones in the Gulf State who have a shelter to take care of foreigners that run into trouble.

Madam Thomas called on the Government of Sierra Leone to put measures in place to deter the traffickers, adding that the embassy is working hard to have an official labor pact with the government of Kuwait, stating that there are many jobs in Kuwait but people should resist the temptation of been recruited by fictitious agents who, she disclosed, work in partnership with Ghanaians, Nigerians and other nationals to traffic people into the Middle East.

She called for more sensitization on the issue to ensure that people who want to go to the Middle East for work pass through the right channel and to beware of these fictitious agents who traffic and abandon them. She said the Embassy is working to identify the people behind this illegal trade and to report them to both the Sierra Leone and Kuwaiti authorities. To those living in Kuwait, she advised them to obey the law, to avoid drugs, prostitution and crime.