MBALE – Relatives of two Ugandan girls, who are stranded in Oman and Jordan, where they had gone for work, have appealed to the government to intervene and bring them home.
Mr James Kabanule, a resident of Namunyole village, Namunyali parish in Namisindwa district and a brother to one of the trapped girls, said they got reports from their sister, Lakeli Khayiyi, 26, last year that she is being tortured and sexually abused by her employer.
“As a family, we are worried about her life because she told us that she is going through harsh mistreatment by her employers every day,” he said.
According to Mr Kabanule, her sister was trafficked to Oman, two years ago by two the unscrupulous agents,Mr Bashir Zesoyi and Juma Ali, both residents of Namisindwa District.
Mr Kabanule told this website that the agents reportedly convinced her sister that she would earn between Shs 1.3 and 2million.
“These two agents assured my sister without our consent that everything would be fine. She escaped and went to Oman for work,” he said, adding that she never suspected her employer would force her to work back-breaking hours with no day off.
She has just completed her course in tailoring at Namisindwa Technical School.
She was trafficked through Lwakhakha boarder with no agreement signed.
According to him, he reported the case of trafficking and illegal recruitment at Namisindwa central Police station in Bugisu sub-region but nothing has happened.
“We ask the government to intervene and help us to bring our trapped sister back home,” he said, adding that as family, they have tried all avenues but failed.
“I have contacted several offices including the Directorate of the International Police, commonly known as Interpol to help but nothing positive so far,” he says, adding that they reported a case trafficking and illegal recruitment at Namisindwa central Police station in Bugisu sub-region.
In a WhatsApp audio, which Khayiyi sent to her brother, Mr Kabanule from Oman last year, narrated while crying how she was being tortured.
“I want to come back home but I need help.l’m being mistreated and I’m living a miserable and painful life,” she said in a message, adding that her passport has been confiscated.
Mr Joseph Katende, a resident of Kakamba village in Lwengo district and the father of another victim is afraid her daughter might have been killed.
“I last heard from her sometime back when she was crying for help to come back home but her phone has been off since then. I request government to intervene,” he says.
Ms Grace Nabikolo, who returned from Jordan last two weeks, told this website that she was mistreated by her employers.
“I was badly beaten and all channels of communication cut off as my phone was taken away by the employers,” she said.
Nabikolo, who sought casual employment in Jordan through a local agent in Kampala, said she was being mentally harassed and starved as they would only give her one slice of bread a day.
“On arrival, my phones, passports and other travel documents were hidden from me and I could not talk to my people and friend to tell them what I was going through,” she said.
She accessed a mobile phone and sent to her family in Uganda to do all they could to rescue her.
Ms Mariam Mwiza, the Executive Director, Overseas Workers Voice Uganda (OWVU), an association formed to fight for the rights of Ugandans working in the different sultanate regions, said about 20 young girls are trapped and need to be rescued.
“And most of the victims are from Bugisu sub-region in the districts of Namisindwa and Manafwa,” she said.
Ms Mwiza, said although, they have managed to rescue 17 girls from forced labour in the Middle East countries since last year, the government officials are trying to frustrate their efforts.
She said four girls have so far died in Oman and Jordan respectively since this year started.
She identified the deceased as Kezia Nalwaga died in Oman, Shery Nsubuga, 24 years a single mother and a resident of Nasana in Kampala died in Jordan.
According to Ms Mwiza, Christine Nambereke a resident of Bumbo town council in Namisindwa District is the latest case died in Oman on March 10 this year left seven children the eldest being 14 years and youngest twins of three years.
She said the deceased died in Oman after reportedly being tortured by her employers.
“Some big people in government are frustrating our efforts to help other Ugandan trapped girls get reunited with their families back home,” she said.
Ms Mwiza, an anti-human trafficking activist, said most of the girls were trafficked through Lwakhakha border in Namisindwa District to Kenya before they connect to Arab countries.
“They cannot return unless they complete their two-year contract or refund money that was paid by the agency. The girls have so far worked for months and are currently suffering from a concoction of illnesses include UTIs and other diseases,” Ms Mwiza said.
According to Ms Mwiza, girls are being mistreated, denied food and access to medical care.
“The girls are very ill and they need medical attention. Let us not allow this situation to go out of hand,” she said.
Ms Mwiza said many cases of trafficking and illegal recruitment have been reported to various police stations in the country but no action has been taken against the culprits.
The Manafwa District LC5 chairperson, Mr John Musila, said security should be tightened on borders and other small routes to beat human trafficking.
“Uganda as a country, we must stand up to defeat human trafficking because this is an inhuman vice. We are not ready to continue losing our beloved ones in Oman,”Mr Musila.
The District Police Commander (DPC), Namisindwa, Mr Livingstone Ssendikadiwa said fighting human trafficking is a still big challenge because of so many existing ungazzeted routes used by traffickers.
“It’s true some are trafficked but as police, we don’t help girls to be trafficked in Oman. These girls are trafficked secretly without following the right procedures,” Mr Ssendikadiwa, said.
He further dismissed reports that police officers get bribes from traffickers.
“If anyone has a complaint against any police officer, he or she should report to him or her to Police’s Professional standard Unit (PSU) for disciplinary action,” he said.
Mr Juma Ali, the founder of 2nice Company, who is accused by one of the family of Lakeli Khayiyi who is trapped in Oman of reportedly sneaking the victims out of the country to Omani and other Arab countries, when contacted, dismissed the allegations.
“I have a registered company called 2 nice, which I use to take girls to Jordan and Saudi Arabia and I follow up my clients,” he said.
He said the girls should follow right procedures to go for work in Middle East if they want to face torture and ending up stranded in the foreign countries.
The Resident District Commissioner (RDC), Namisindwa district, Mr Moses Wamoto Kigai, said he has ordered police should intensify security on the border points.
The Police Spokesperson, Mr Fred Enanga warned girls to stop going to Oman for work.
“Girls must be careful with their life. Parents also have a duty to play to tell their daughters the dangers of going to Oman,” Mr Enanga, said.
These 20 young girls cases still trapped in the Middle East countries is the latest of the growing incidents of young women being tortured to death in the Middle East over the years. The media has documented cases of the export, enslavement, torture and death of Ugandan women in the Middle East.
In April last year, a report by Parliament’s committee on Defence and Internal Affairs disclosed that 16 Ugandan girls had committed suicide in the United Arab Emirates. There are various reports of deaths attributed to torture and mishandling by bosses and the labour receiving companies