The new IOM Regional Director (RD) for East and Horn of Africa Mr. Mohamed Abdiker paid a courtesy visit to the Cabinet Secretary (CS) for the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection Hon. Amb. Ukur Yatani. The Ministry of Labour has two State Departments-the State Department of Labour and the State Department of Social Protection each headed by a Principal Secretary and various departments including, Labour relations, Industrial and Occupational Safety, Industrial Training, Labour Market information and Labour Migration Management.
The CS appreciated the existing partnership between the Ministry and IOM specifically with the National Employment Authority (NEA), a Semi-Autonomous parastatal under the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection to promote dignified and decent employment by creating an enabling environment for job creation and increasing access to employment for all especially the youth, minorities and marginalized groups. NEA and IOM are working closely on the Labour Migration Bill and Labour Migration Policy.
IOM has also provided technical support in the development of pre-departure hand books to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the State of Qatar as well as the Kenya labour migration information website www.kenyanmigrantworker.org which is a source of credible, factual and reliable information for prospective Kenyan migrant workers seeking employment in the three countries. Amb. Yatani noted that in the UAE (Dubai) there exists a one stop labour information, recruitment and processing center which Kenya should consider replicating.
“There are approximately 4 million Kenyans in the Diaspora 200,000 of whom are said to be in the Middle East. The Kenyan migrant workers in the Gulf Cooperation Countries are usually hired through recruitment agencies. The Ministry of Labourvets and accredits these agencies to ensure that there is ethical recruitment”, said CS Yatani. The vetting is done by a Multi-Agency Committee and the rigorous exercise has reduced the recruitment agencies from about 1000 to slightly above 100, he added.
The CS also informed Mr. Abdiker that plans to move away from providing unskilled labour to provision of semi-skilled and skilled labour. In addition, Kenya has entered into bilateral arrangements with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, UAE and the State of Qatar and is in discussion with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, State of Kuwait and Kingdom of Bahrain. Mr. Yatani further noted that there is need for harmonization of labour policies in the region to enhance the countries’ common
understanding and approaches on labour migration as well as expand their bargaining capacity by leverage and speaking with one voice thus reducing the possibility of abuse and exploitation of East and Horn of Africa labour migrants.
“There is need for the countries in the region to start brainstorming on how best to have a common approach on labour migration. However each country must play its part and role and collectively, the countries can reach out and engage the labour receiving countries”. Said Mr. Abdiker. The Colombo process in Asia has had enormous benefits and many countries are opting to follow this process. There is also need to support returning labour migrants most of whom may have lost all they had and need material, psychosocial and reintegration support, he added.
The RD assured the CS of IOMs continued support and will plan a meeting in the coming weeks to explore areas of further collaboration, partnerships and interventions. The RD informed the CS of the critical oversight role of the CS Treasury and National Planning in the UNDAF which IOM co -lead with UNDP in the Political Pillar and requested for the CS’s support for successful implementation of the political pillar.