Kenyan officials have warned citizens once more against falling prey to job scams in Southeast Asia. The warning came after it was discovered that dishonest agents were luring people with the promise of work and then ending up trafficking them.
According to a statement released by the Ministry of Foreign and Diaspora Affairs, the Kenyan embassy in Bangkok recently rescued 50 stranded Kenyans who had been affected by these job frauds in Thailand. The ministry worked with the International Organization on Migration (IOM) and other organizations to bring back the people.
The statement read, “Dozens of other Kenyans are still being lured and traveling abroad under similar arrangements, despite the anguish of Kenyans who have fallen victim to this scam being highlighted in the media.”
According to the ministry, it has received “an overwhelming number of calls and messages from distraught Kenyans who have fallen and continue to fall prey to overseas human traffickers who are in collusion with local recruitment organizations.”
When job seekers depart Kenya on their flights, their return tickets are typically canceled, leaving the duped individuals “at the mercy of local networks who traffic them to other destinations.” Rogue agents from these recruitment agencies frequently assist job seekers in obtaining visas and return airline tickets.
The ministry cautions that after being transferred to various “factories,” the victims are coerced into engaging in criminal activity while being watched over by armed criminal groups.
The ministry advised Kenyans to be on the lookout for such employment fraud; to investigate any attractive job offers thoroughly; and to report any doubtful job offers to the Director of Diaspora and Consular Services for confirmation.
In the past, Kenya has been criticized for ignoring its own citizens’ calls for help in these Asian countries. Most of these were employed as domestic servants in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf nations, including Bahrain.
However, this year, the country has started to get distress calls from countries in Southeast Asia like Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. Last month, the government reported that 22 Kenyans had been rescued from Laos and 13 more had been rescued from Myanmar.
In August, the government urged citizens against applying for work in Asian nations unless they could verify their legitimacy before departing. According to the IOM, a majority of victims of human trafficking are exposed to violence, sexual abuse, and forced labor, which is why the IOM has asked countries to take urgent action to stop it in the East and Horn of Africa region.
On October 10, Tanzania’s Samia Suluhu Hassan and Kenya’s William Ruto announced that their countries’ security agencies would work more closely together to combat the threat of human trafficking across their borders.
Poverty is mostly the driving factor that renders such victims susceptible to human trafficking. The majority of the affected people are young women who make sacrifices to leave the country and look for jobs to help their struggling families. Several videos have surfaced online of women being forced to do all sorts of demeaning things for money. Earlier this year, a video circulated online of a young woman being forced to eat human waste in one of the Gulf countries.
The Global Slavery Index estimates that 40.3 million people were in modern slavery around the world in 2022. Human trafficking to Asian countries is not limited to Kenya; a number of African countries are grappling with the problem. African governments should work together and introduce policies that protect the vulnerable from being lured into dangerous job scams.