RIYADH – 08 May 2021 – Attention has been drawn to a video circulating on social media purportedly dated 08 May 2021 of Ugandan nationals seeking assistance from the general public and making various allegations. Some of the allegations in the video include the following;
• The housing facility where they are kept is taking their money from them.
• The ladies have been at the housing facility for the past 8 months.
• The ladies are locked up like prisoners.
• The ladies are being beaten and mistreated.
• The Embassy is not helping them to resolve their issues. It’s mentioned that the Embassy visited 1 month ago and has not done anything since then.
• There is no medication provided for the sick ladies.
• Some of the ladies have not been paid.
• Ladies are dying at the facility.
The Embassy would like from the onset to inform the general public that the above claims and stories are baseless, unfounded and authored with malicious intent to taint the image of the country Uganda.
Similarly, the Embassy would like to categorically state as follows;
- The Ministry of Labour and Human Resources of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is in advanced stages of restructuring the management of distressed migrant workers and as such has contracted an agency called Sakan Company to receive and process the return of the distressed migrant workers with genuine challenges.
- Sakan Company is a private entity partnering with the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to provide accommodation facilities for the distressed migrant workers. This company has replaced the government run housemaid reception center where female workers sought shelter and redress to their issues when in distress. The facility started its operations on 4th April 2021 and received the first group of Ugandans on 5th April 2021.
- The Embassy has engaged the relevant authorities in the Kingdom to secure the necessary information on the workings of this entity and a separate report is being prepared to this effect. Unfortunately, some of the key government agencies like Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Justice have not yet started operations at the facility.
- The Embassy officials visited the Sakan housing facility on two occasions prior to this video. In the first encounter, the Embassy was seeking clarity on the preparedness of the facility to receive the distressed migrant workers and also find a way to secure the necessary exit visas for the 27 Ugandans currently residing at the Embassy provided shelter. On the second encounter, it was to respond to a call from the management of the facility about our nationals rioting.
- On 21st April 2021, the Embassy was called to Sakan facility to handle issues related to the distressed migrant workers. At this engagement with the ladies, it was agreed that the management of the facility pardon the ladies who had rioted and destroyed property on condition that they remain calm as the process of repatriation is handled.
- Following the circulation of this video, the Embassy has visited the facility on 8th May 2021 to interrogate and investigate the allegations raised therein and below are the facts;
i. There are 63 Ugandans currently residing at the facility.
ii. Money received by the management of the facility is done so at the request of the lady, it is receipted and at the time of return to Uganda is given to her. This is done to avoid complaints or cases of theft within the facility.
iii. None of the ladies at the facility has been at this facility or in the custody of the Saudi government for 8 months as stated.
iv. The ladies are provided with 3 healthy meals every day, a separate bed to sleep on, medical care is provided to all those who are sick at the expense of the company.
v. The facility has a strict policy on no male workers engaging with the ladies and as such there is no evidence of any lady being beaten and mistreated/manhandled as alleged.
vi. Whilst it is true that one lady died at the facility, this was not a Ugandan and the circumstances leading to her death were natural and a police report to that effect has been prepared. The death of this lady is the reason the Embassy was given for the riot by the Ugandans.
vii. The ladies are not treated like prisoners but rather are asked to remain within the confines of the facility for their own protection. They are provided with WiFi to freely contact their families and from time to time are provided with a phone to call and talk to their families especially for those who do not have the phone.
viii. Whilst it is true that some of the ladies have genuine cases, the vast majority are those who absconded duty or refused to work and claim they want to go home without any genuine reason.
ix. It is true that the ladies are agitated because they have families and yet they are not able to fend for them while staying at the facility. However, this is no justification for sharing false information.
x. Sakan Company management is doing everything possible to ensure that the ladies are comfortable as they await the completion of the internal processes by the government authorities and full operationalization of systems at the facility.
xi. The Embassy was informed that 17 ladies whose issues had been resolved would be departing for Uganda on 15th May 2021. A list of these ladies in particular will be secured and transmitted.
- The Embassy has cautioned the ladies on spreading falsehood because the laws in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia are very punitive for those who spread falsehoods on social media or any other media.
- The Embassy will engage the relevant authorities after the Eid break to find a solution to the delay in exit processes for these Ugandan migrant workers and many more currently across the Kingdom.
The misuse of social media by the migrant workers is one of the reasons that many migrant workers are being misled to abscond from duty and engage in dubious acts. It is only when the migrant workers are in distress that they cry foul. The Embassy is committed to extending consular assistance to all Ugandans in its countries of accreditation but is very aware of the laws governing the host countries.
The Ugandans are hereby cautioned against spreading falsehood on social media lest the long arm of the law will catch up with them.
Embassy of the Republic of Uganda
RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA