Dr. Alfred Mutua, Cabinet Secretary for Foreign and Diaspora Affairs made a two-day official visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia between November 2 – 4, 2022.
During the visit, the Cabinet Secretary held bilateral talks with his counterpart, His Royal Highness Prince Faisal Bin Farhan Alsoud, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Vice Minister of Labour H.E. Dr. Abdullah Nasser Abuthnain with whom he discussed bilateral issues between Kenya and the Kingdom of Saudi.
The leaders agreed to work together to push the international agendas of both countries; enhance trade and investments; expand the tourism sector; improve matters of immigrant labour and the issues facing Kenyan workers, all aimed at further deepening relations for the benefit of the peoples of the two countries.
Speaking during the engagements, CS Mutua requested for the support of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on tackling the drought situation facing the country due to the effects of climate change.
Later in the day, Dr. Mutua interacted with the Kenyans living and working in the Kingdom.
“Listening to the Kenyans, agents, Kenya Government officials and Saudi Government officials, it is clear that the problems facing some our people start back home due to flawed and corrupt systems. There is massive corruption in the way Kenyans are prepared before they leave to take up domestic work in Saudi Arabia and their follow up when they arrive,” the CS stated adding that this was a major concern to both Governments and pledged to break cartels and the unscrupulous agencies.
The two countries agreed to flush out illegal agencies and black list agencies that do not perform as per the law. “The rights of all workers, as enshrined by the laws of Saudi Arabia and Kenya must be enforced, including provision of healthcare to Kenyans. Kenyan immigration officers to ensure domestic workers travelling out of the country have fulfiled the set requirements with effects from November 7, 2022,” said CS Mutua.
A Joint Technical Team of Kenya and Saudi Arabia Government officials has been set up to fast-track Labour issues including exit visas, to commence work from November 17, 2022.
Dr. Mutua announced that an emergency hotline for use by Kenyans in Saudi Arabia has been launched at the Kenyan Embassy in Riyadh, and gave the number as; +966500755060.
“I have also requested for an amnesty to be granted to Kenyans who have fallen out of status and are residing in Saudi Arabia illegally and those who are unable to access medical care so that their documents can be legalized and given passage to return home,” CS Mutua said.
The CS stressed that Saudi Arabia is a major market for trained Kenyan workers especially in formal sectors. He said he had requested for a review upwards on the packages and salaries offered to Kenyans working in Saudi Arabia.
He thanked Kenyans who came out to meet, greet and share ideas and assured them that their welfare will be given priority by his office.
Dr. Mutua thanked the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for their support and open bilateral discussions. He expressed appreciation for according Kenyans the opportunity to reside and work in Saudi Arabia.