[Cambodia] Kingdom not keen on sending more maids to Saudi Arabia

Labour Minister Ith Samheng yesterday said he is reluctant to send migrants to work as maids in Saudi Arabia following a meeting with the Saudi ambassador at the ministry.

Speaking to reporters after meeting Saudi Ambassador Shiekh Saud F. M. Al Suwelim, he noted the Kingdom does not encourage agencies to recruit migrants to work as maids abroad because there have been many cases of abuse.

“The ministry does not encourage agencies to send our workers to work as maids. But, for the other general sectors, such as construction, agriculture and industry, we encourage them to recruit and send workers over there,” Mr Samheng said.

His comments follow high profile cases of maid abuse in Saudi Arabia, which led to the jailing of a former Social Affairs Ministry secretary of state and his nephew in connection with the trafficking of nearly 300 women to work as maids in Saudi Arabia.

Ahmad Yahya and his nephew Ismael Pin Osman, a former official at the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, recruited the women, some of whom were underage, from 2004 to 2017 and sold them for $20,000 each to employers in Saudi Arabia to work as maids.

Last year, Othsman Hassan, a Labour Ministry secretary of state, said the government had rescued five women from Saudi Arabia after they were cheated by brokers and were working there illegally. Some of the rescued maids had been stuck in Saudi Arabia for more than ten years without pay.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs last year rescued and repatriated nearly 8,500 migrants from overseas abuse. Ministry spokesman Ket Sophann said most of the repatriated migrant workers were employed as maids or fishermen, and many others were trafficked to marry men.

He noted that the cases mostly occurred in Malaysia, China, Vietnam and Thailand.

Mr Samheng said that during yesterday’s meeting, he and Mr Suwelim discussed sending more migrants to work in Saudi Arabia, and he focused on other general sectors, such as construction and agriculture, instead of maids.

“Both our countries enjoy good cooperation,” he said. “When I went to visit Saudi Arabia in 2016, we signed two agreements, one was on training and sending workers to work in general jobs and the second agreement was sending workers to work as maids.”

Mr Samheng said that following the agreement, there are now 40 legal recruitment agencies sending workers to Saudi Arabia and they cooperate with agencies in that country.

“There are now 79 Cambodians working in Saudi Arabia and the number is still small,” Mr Samheng noted. “Saudi Arabia is a large market that absorbs foreign workers from Asia, including India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, and many other countries to work there.”

“During our discussion, I told the ambassador that the most important criteria to attract workers from Cambodia is wages,” he added. “Many countries have already recruited workers from Cambodia to work for high wages, such as the Republic of Korea and Japan.”

Mr Samheng added that the other factors were working conditions, job safety and arrangements to return home.

Written by Mom Kunthear
Source: The Khmer Times
Published on 6 September 2019
Link: https://www.khmertimeskh.com/50640959/kingdom-not-keen-on-sending-more-maids-to-saudi-arabia/

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