Exporting Domestic servants to Saudi Arabi
By Cumer Kulmiye-In the last few months, there have been a lot of rumours milling around that the governments of Saudi and Somalia had signed an accord which stipulated that the Somali government which is experiencing political and financial hardships will send to Saudi Arabia an unspecified numbers of mainly female domestic workers. None of us believed those rumour stories until the Somali federal president confidently confirmed the existence of such policy while he was an official state visit to the Republic of Northern Sudan. Defending and arguing competently while implying the importance of his policy politically and financially: he said the Somali youths are already dying in the high seas while they are trying to reach the European shores illegally; it is better to suffer legally in the hands of Saudi Arabia where their government knows and actively represent on their behalf.
Sadly, the president did not divulge how his agreement with the Saudi Arabia will work and how the rights and human dignity of the Somali female youths will be safeguarded except saying the Saudi deal will safe may lives and discourage many more to go Europe in risk woven and adventurous voyages. In the president’s interview, lacked hope, hints or indications, how his agreement with the Saudi Arabia will work in terms of contractual remunerations, holidays, health provisions, housing and other essential human amenities that are legally entitled to those will be domestic workers.
If Somali-Saudi agreement on Somali domestic workers’ scheme is viable, scrupulous and beneficial to the Somalis , why it has not been spelt-out to the Somali audience in candid way instead of doing it in clandestine manner, which is beyond for the public eyes to scrutinize.
True, many Somalis are unnecessarily leaving their country en mass right or wrongly, due to lack of job- opportunities, political mismanagement, corruption, tribal strife, clan discrimination and stereotyping against clan against clan, resource competition, fragmentation of the Somali republic and unscrupulous political leaders who do not care less the masses than their own pockets and immediate souls. In one sense the president is right to utilize the emotive situations that many of our youths’ ill-thought, blindness mass departure from their country without a due care has led many Somalis to be murdered, robbed, their organs harvested by force and sexually and monetarily exploitations in the hands of criminals in Libya, south Sudan and Egypt and in collaboration with the Somali criminal middlemen.
In fair and frankly judgement, to claim the Saudi-Somali agreement will safe many Somali lives, is a quiet preposterous and hilarious shenanigans. Somali youth choose to perish in the high seas by their own will, and it is an act of knowingly committing suicide. They choose this mad action on their own free will, clear and conscious committal rather than dubious and sorrowful Saudi bondages. Though, I’m neither encouraging nor colluding with this blindness and the ill-thought path of death in the high seas any shape or form; but I’m not convinced that, the Saudi-Somali agreement will create a joyful panacea to the Somali youths’ woes.
Few people will believe that Somali government can act on behalf of its domestic workers in Saudi Arabia, but it is a Saudi pressure which is making the Somali government to acquiescent since Somali government rely on some semblance of financial assistance from Saudi Arabia and in order to maintain this lifeline of monetary assistant, the Somali government is willing to appease and placate any Saudi displeasure; while forfeiting the rights and the dignity of its future youths as domestic workers in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is not a place for idyllic low paid and unskilled foreign workers unless you are a European passport holder or a Saudi citizen. They regard non European citizens less human and less value, even though Saudi Arabia is located in the two Muslim holy places which are supposed to be the beacon of human justice, knowledge, enlightenment and above fraternity of the disciples of the teaching of our last Prophet-Mohamed Peace and Blessing be upon him.
Indeed, it is a great national injury, stigma and human right degrading to entrust and export our young youths into unchartered territory of Saudi hands which is tantamount as a modern copy cat human bondage. There is no check and balance or oversight protection for the future destiny of those young Somali female workers who will be ending up in the hands of unscrupulous and unsympathetic Saudi private and public houses.
It paints a picture of irresponsibility to dupe and persuade many innocent and poverty stricken Somalis from bad to worst predicaments by their supposed protectors and political leaders, for purely revenue gains, political alliance and appeasement to the Saudi Arabia, while many countries forbade their citizens to work in Saudi Arabia as domestic workers after suffering untold horror and immeasurable abuses in the hands of Saudis.
It is no wonder then what awaits many will be Somali domestic workers in Saudi Arabia who are not familiar with the Saudi racist culture and ignorant attitude and customs (with the exceptions of religious and the God fearing individual who do not normally hire foreign domestic workers) towards the blacks and brown skins, which is antithesis to the human equality nature in the eyes of our creator.
Many nations such as Indonesia, Ethiopia, and Philippines have suspended any bilateral agreements with the Saudi Arabia of their citizens ever working again in Saudi Arabia as domestic workers as many of their citizens suffered all forms of human ill-treatment degradation and human rights/labour violations. Unlike our fragile government, those countries that banned their citizens to travel and work in Saudi Arabia, have stronger and well-managed government institutions which looked after the welfare of their citizens in the field of consulate attention, ambassadorial follow up for their citizens wellbeing and other essential oversights including advocacy, arranging a return when and where situation might deemed necessary.
As you will agree, the Somali government will neither capable or care to follow up how it is bartered citizens are fairing in Saudi Arabia after it had thrown them into a lion den. Moreover, it will be a miracle if the Saudi government treat the Somali government as an equal state partner since the fragmentation of the Somali republic, which has descended into competing fiefdoms which do not speak with one voice but only become a willing of foreign stooges that forfeit the rights of their citizens’ wellbeing for a mere negligible hand-outs.
As it is obvious that the deals of Saudi and Somali governments are no longer in doubt, as this week was announced by the Somali deputy labour minister that the first patch of 2,000 labourers will go to Saudi Arabia, what is in doubt however, is who will manage this unjustly agreement. This has already created the greatest worries among Somali people who already had enough uncertainties and well-founded fears for the human misery of the Somali domestic workers in Saudi Arabia. There are already a plethora of leaks which indicated that this deal will be managed by Somali-Saudi middlemen who will not be different from a profit seeking criminal underworld who have no respect or little regard for the future predicament of the Somali domestic workers’ rights as soon as they are in the hands Saudis.
If on the other hands, the Somali -Saudi agreement is honey and milk, and genuinely the Saudi government looking for competent domestic workers, why it does not employ from millions of Syrian refugees who are living at its borders in Jordan and Turkey in an abject situation and human miseries. Syrian refugees are culturally, linguistically, educationally competent, who can easily meet the Saudi needs and efficiently able to integrate and blend to the Saudis socially and are more efficient than will be Somali domestic workers.
It seems Saudis do not want to employ the Syrian Arab refugees, for some reasons that we cannot comprehend; and why Saudis choose Somali domestic workers over highly educated Syrians. Does it mean the Somalis are more docile and susceptible to abuses or easily wave their rights and human pride?
It is a real mystery which can allude as a hidden conspiracy against the unsuspecting, uninformed Somali people while their political leaders seem to conniving with the Saudi agenda. If genuinely the Saudi Arabia is interested in employing the needy Somali work forces, there are thousands who are already in her country legally or illegally: some were born in Saudi Arabia, some have been living in Saudi Arabia for many decades that are more competent and familiar to the Saudi language and culture; instead of employing them, Saudi Arabia choose to deport them en mass and on daily basis in an inhumanely fashion that against all Islamic norms and ethics, and international laws.
In the light of this, it is a wake up call for Somalis-whether they are religious leaders, politicians, civics, educationalists, diasporas, youth, women groups and honest business leaders to stand up and avert this impending national shame that will disgrace our pride and embellish our images. We have to write as many articles as possible , use social media, make demonstrations, contact our members of parliaments, influential clan leaders and any other form and shape that we can stop this shameful political submissiveness and grotesque grovelling psychological short-sightedness.
We have a chance to stop now but not tomorrow. Many parents who may be tempted to acquiescence to the government policy of sending their youngsters to Saudi Arabia might regret later and cry tomorrow if their loved ones are inhumanely abused. Remember, politicians of today who are sending our youths to Saudi Arabia as domestic workers might not be in office tomorrow, it will be left to us to pick up the pieces God forbids if something unpleasant happen to the Somali domestic workers in Saudi Arabia. Remember as soon as Somali domestic workers end up in the hands of Saudis, nobody will have access, their freedom and movements could be curtailed or their wages denied except the middlemen’ commission. If we do not take action today then we may be consenting collectively this ill-thought enterprise