Every day young Kenyans leave their homes and move abroad, leaving behind their families and exchanging the warm familiarity of their own culture, traditions and social roots for an uncertain future in a foreign country. Most of them travel along the Eastern Migration Route towards the Gulf Countries, which offer opportunities for employment and hope for a better life to thousands of people from the Horn of Africa. According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), the Arab states employ 17.8 million migrant workers with sizeable numbers coming from Africa.
Labour migration contributes significantly to the development of the local economy. Over four million Kenyans living abroad provide vast human and capital resources in the form of remittances, knowledge, skills, and technology transfers. In 2018, the annual inward formal remittance stood at USD 270 billion (USD 2.6 billion). Conservative estimates suggest that currently, about 100,000 Kenyans are working in Gulf Countries, but the true figure could be much higher.
However, many of those migrants are at risk of becoming victims of forced labour or human trafficking. ILO estimates that some 600,000 migrants are victims of forced labour in the Golf countries. This high number illustrates the vulnerability of people migrating irregularly to the Arabic Peninsula, which profoundly affects the lives of individuals and negatively affects the economic and social development of both countries of origin and destination.
Kenya has been identified as a source, transit, and destination country for victims of human trafficking. Internal trafficking also occurs within Kenyan borders, mainly for purposes of domestic labour and sexual exploitation, whereas international or cross-border trafficking occurs mostly due to forced labour, domestic servitude or sexual exploitation. Kenyans are recruited by legal or illegal employment agencies or voluntarily migrate to Europe, the United States, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East – particularly Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Kuwait, Qatar, the UAE, and Oman – in search of employment, where at times they are exploited in domestic servitude, massage parlours, brothels or forced manual labour.
This Anti-Labour Trafficking Conference to be held in Nairobi on 6-7 August 2019, brings together mandated national bodies from the Horn of Africa to expose/highlight on the interface of labour migration and human trafficking and to discuss how to tackle these phenomena through improved cross-border cooperation. Building on the labour migration and data management recommendations, formulated during the first Anti-Trafficking conference in Khartoum in July 2018, this conference intends to deepen the exchange of good practices among the counter human trafficking bodies in the Horn of Africa region. The aim is to agree on concrete solutions to prevent illegal labour trafficking and protect victims of trafficking through improved regional collaboration and information sharing along the Eastern Migration Route.
Representatives from the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) member states also will attend together with international agencies and NGOs, national CSOs, relevant UN agencies, and interested diplomatic missions. The conference is organised by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) in the framework of the Better Migration Management (BMM) programme. BMM is funded by the European Union (EU) Emergency Trust Fund for Africa and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). The programme aims to improve migration management in the region and addresses the trafficking and smuggling of migrants within and from the Horn of Africa. BMM is a regional, multi-year, multi-partner programme implemented by British Council, Civipol, Expertise France, GIZ, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the Italian Department of Public Security (IDoPS) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). Partner countries are Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, and Uganda. BMM ensures the alignment with the Khartoum Process and existing strategic policies and action frameworks provided by IGAD and the African Union (AU).