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Rigorous vetting awaits Middle East migration

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By Patience Lunda:

The Ministry of Labour has announced that migration to Middle East countries will now be subjected to rigorous vetting as a measure to safeguard lives of labour migrants.

In a statement issued Friday, the ministry said the process will be taking up to 14 working days.

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The ministry says it has made the decision after noticing an increase in the number of Malawians found in irregular situations in the Middle East countries.

According to the ministry, some people have landed into informal jobs when they had applied for white collar jobs.

The ministry has disclosed that there are over 50 Malawians stranded in the Middle East and the government is taking steps to repatriate them.

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Secretary for Labour, Wezi Kayira, the signatory of the statement, said most of the migrating Malawians travel either without relevant documents or without knowledge of conditions of employment offered to them.

“Those without valid permits end up facing criminal charges for violating the destination country’s laws and those with valid documents working as domestic workers are usually subjected to hard labour and various forms of abuses,” she said.

In November last year, Malawi adopted guidelines for Harmonisation of Travel Clearance for Purposes of Labour Export which aim at, among others, facilitating dignified employment for Malawian migrant workers and promoting signing of bilateral labour agreements with high demand of Malawian labour or services.

Labour rights commentator, Shakespeare Sesani, commended the ministry for the move saying the government will now be able to track Malawian job seekers in foreign lands.

Sesani added that there is need for sensitisation on the new guidelines instituted by the ministry.

“This is a welcome idea because government and all agencies involved will be able to know the people migrating to other countries but people need to be told about this because the current levels of poverty are driving people to other countries,” he said.

Government has since called on the general public to report suspicious cases of recruitment.

Oman is one of the countries confirmed to have Malawians who are stuck in their work places due to lack of relevant documents as they used illegal means to get to the country.

In October last year, the Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) urged the government to adopt a comprehensive policy on human trafficking.

Chairperson of the commission Scader Louis in the statement that human trafficking is exposing victims to modern form of slavery.

She said a comprehensive policy would go a long way to safeguard and uphold the rights of many young Malawian women and men who are at risk of human trafficking.

Louis expressed concern over reports of sexual and labour exploitation, organ removal, poor living conditions and confiscation of passports from victims in countries such as Oman, United Arab Emirates and South Africa and she called for government action.

“The government must investigate and prosecute all agents of this evil practice that seems to have been left unchecked for some time now,” she said.

Louis also asked the government system to upgrade its screening procedures when issuing passports and other travel documents and examine every employment agency which has been recruiting people to different countries.

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