Government helpless on Oman trafficking victims
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has left the duty of repatriating Malawians trafficked to Oman in the hands of trafficked people themselves and their relatives.
However, human rights activists have faulted the government for the decision.
The Daily Times understands that each person stuck in Oman needs to pay $2,000 (about K2 million) as a penalty to that country before they can be repatriated to Malawi.
According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, there are about 50 Malawians stuck there, but more continue trickling to the same country using airports in other countries.
“Even as we are talking about this, we have received reports that there are Malawians who are still going to Gulf countries, some of them unknowingly while others are being tricked, by utilising airports in neighbouring countries,” said ministry spokesperson John Kabaghe.
However, human rights advocate Victor Chipofya and social commentator Latimu Matenje said the government is still duty-bound to ensure that its citizens are safely back home.
“We pay taxes so that the government can be looking after us. So, if the government is failing to repatriate these people, it means that the government is failing to do its job,” Chipofya said.
On his part, Matenje said the government has no option but to repatriate the people if they are failing to mobilise funds to return to Malawi.
Many Malawians have been flocking to Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates for employment opportunities, but most of them have ended up in alleged unfavourable conditions, including sexual harassment.
The issue surfaced last year and some suspected traffickers have been arrested.
Mathews Kasanda is a journalist who holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from University of Malawi (The Polytechnic).
In 2015, Media Institute of Southern Africa awarded him the Best Print Media Education Journalist of the Year accolade.
He joined Times Group Newsroom in September 2019.