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Authorised Labor Companies Pinned for Aiding Traffickers

Alex Sembatya, the Executive Director Make A child Smile, an NGO that rescues victims of trafficking, says the trend has changed as traffickers now establish connections within labor export companies who help them access desperate job seekers.

Audio 4

While the Gender, Labor and Social Development Ministry encourages those seeking employment abroad to go through Labor export companies and verify with the ministry to establish if they are accredited, anti-trafficking crusaders, say this no longer helps.    

Alex Sembatya, the Executive Director Make A child Smile, an NGO that rescues victims of trafficking, says the trend has changed as traffickers now establish connections within labor export companies who help them access desperate job seekers.

 

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Sembatya reveals that on his recent visit to Dubai, he established that due to cut throat competition among labor placement companies, some laborers find the job they applied for none existent by the time they arrive in Dubai even when the agency here might have an active contract with a placement agency in United Arab Emirates (UAE).

He says as a result, desperate workers are recruited anywhere and sometimes end up being sent back home prematurely.  

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Philip Ayazika, the head of the team that developed Wetaase, an Anti-trafficking on-line platform, says a lot of people seeking information from the platform are actually verifying if certain companies are real after encountering challenges with people who either claim to be employees of popular externalisation agencies or someone has used individuals within the agencies to fleece them.

For him, this issue arises because traffickers are aware people are not knowledgeable about the workings of securing a job abroad. Ayazika says the on-line platform came up after they conducted a survey in Kampala in 2017 where they found job seekers lacking basic information.   

In this study he says they also realised that people who are supposed to help victims such as legal officers like police and judicial officers were not well conversant with the anti-trafficking law leaving the victims in a dilemma. Sembatya says that when they report their findings to

government, they take long to act.   

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Just last month, 96 girls from different areas majority from Karamoja were rescued by Uganda Police in Kenya on their way to Somalia.  Earlier on 14 others had been rescued heading to the same destination. Sembatya says traffickers’ routes have changed too with the recent clamp down by security. He says many have now resorted mainly to Entebbe and Juba.

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Last year, parliament placed officials from the Labor Ministry on the spot to explain the status of Ugandan laborers in the Middle East. It came after the Mukono Municipality MP; Betty Nambooze raised the matter as an issue of national importance following reports of mistreatment of Ugandan laborers.    

She suggested that instead of private labor externalization agencies, government should come up with its own agency that can be brought to account in case of problems. This was never concluded. Apparently, there are 120 accredited labor externalisation agencies in Uganda.