IOM in bid to combat unethical recruitment of migrant workers

The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) is working on capacitating Southern African countries with the knowledge to deal with unethical recruitment so as to reduce cross-border human trafficking and exploitation.

This comes amid numerous reports of people being hoodwinked into employment in foreign lands where they end up being exploited, trafficked, abused or stranded.

Illegal migration especially by undocumented professionals usually leads to violence and xenophobia as has happened in South Africa where thousands of Zimbabweans based there are not sure of their future as they have been given up to June next year to regularise their stay.

IOM, through its programmes Southern Africa Migration Management Project and Africa Regional Migration Programme, with funding from the European Union and the United States, seeks to capacitate Sadc countries to be able to come up with bilateral agreements to guide labour issues.

Speaking on the first day of a capacity development initiative on promoting ethical recruitment and rights-based bilateral labour migration agreements in the Southern African Region, currently running in Victoria Falls, IOM regional manager Silvester Deane said receiving or host countries end up diverting resources to migrant issues at the expense of their local citizens if such issues are not regularised.

He said labour migration can be addressed through bilateral agreements.

“Migrant workers usually hold more than one job as they try to maximize their earnings. When they leave their country usually they are misled by social media but we are saying people should get contracts before they even leave for any country for a job,” he said.

He acknowledged that some countries have made strides to address migrant labour issues.

South Africa is the biggest receiver of migrant workers in the region with nationals from almost all Africa countries mostly in the informal sector.

“There is a need for concerted efforts,” said Deane.

Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Permanent Secretary Simon Masanga said Zimbabwe needs legislation that governs the movement and welfare of citizens in foreign lands.

“When citizens get stranded in a foreign land, it becomes the responsibility of the government to bring them back home. This is why we are worried about allowing unscrupulous private employment agencies to continue milking people of their hard-earned money while promising them non-existent jobs. We need collaboration as sending and host country,” he said.

 A few years ago some Zimbabweans were stranded in Kuwait where they had gone after being promised non-existent jobs.

Most people end up doing menial domestic work.

Lately, there has been abuzz with health sector workers seeking to go to western countries in droves to become caregivers.

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