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Religious Leaders Seek Tough Action to End Human Trafficking

More than 24,000 Ugandans seek household jobs in the Middle East annually, driven out of the country by poverty, unemployment, domestic violence and family breakdown among others. However, hundreds of them who are unknowingly trafficked are reporting harsh and inhumane working conditions, which have put hundreds of lives on the line.
The Archbishop of Gulu Archdiocese Dr. John Baptist Odama presiding over the National Prayer Service against technology and human trafficking at Kololo. Photo by Dominic Ochola_URN

Audio 4

The government has been asked to address the growing level of vulnerabilities amongst Ugandans to stop the migration of workers seeking greener pastures overseas.

The call was made by religious leaders during a national prayer service held at the Kololo Ceremonial Grounds in Kampala on Friday to show solidarity with the victims and families that have lost their loved ones who emigrate to find jobs, especially in the Middle East.

More than 24,000 Ugandans seek household jobs in the Middle East annually, driven out of the country by poverty, unemployment, domestic violence and family breakdown among others. However, hundreds of them who are unknowingly trafficked are reporting harsh and inhumane working conditions, which have put hundreds of lives on the line.

Aisha Namawejje, a victim of human trafficking says she was connected by an in-law to a recruitment firm in Dubai for a waitress job that was supposed to pay her 1.2 million Shillings a month. However, she only received 700,000 Shillings and recounts that the suffering she experienced resulted in a chronic ailment that torments her to date.

//Cue in; “You will go…

Cue out…I die from here.”//

Joanita Ndagire, another Ugandan girl who was taken to work in Oman explained that she could work without rest, and broke down severally while on duty. However, she was left to die when her condition worsened but her employers banished her for fear of the high cost of returning her remains if she lost her life.

//Cue in; “To tell everyone…

Cue out…was more expensive.”//

Bishop Joshua Lwere, the overseer of the National Fellowship of Born-Again Churches in Uganda said that it should bother the government when young people flee their own country in search of jobs in a foreign land despite the abundant resources at home.

//Cue in; “When God created…

Cue out…population of Uganda.”//

Dr John Baptist Odama, the Archbishop of Gulu Archdiocese asked the government to break the chain of the thriving idolatry of wealth linked to inhuman trade compounded by unemployment and poverty.

//Cue in; “Our young ones…

Cue out…among the citizens.”//

Gender Minister Betty Amongi says that the government has proposed several measures to safeguard the rights of migrant workers already abroad or those intending to seek employment opportunities. The measures include hiring lawyers to represent those abused by their employers in court proceedings, digitising monitoring and complaints management systems.

Other activities include; intensified community awareness programmes, deployment of more Labour Attachés, creating shelter centres, renegotiating bilateral agreements creating new job opportunities for Ugandans in other countries.

A report by the Gender Ministry in 2021 indicated that migrant workers totalled 9,967 in 2010, with the majority in Iraq, Afghanistan and the United Arab Emirates. This grew three-fold, increasing to 28,233 by the end of April 2022.

The service was organized by the John Paul II Justice and Peace Centre, Uganda Episcopal Conference, the Association of the Religious in Uganda, Africa Faith and Justice Network, Inter-Religious Council of Uganda and the Uganda Joint Christian Council.