Recently, the body of Christine Nambereke was returned to Uganda from Oman where she had gone for casual work alias kyeyo as it is fondly known among Ugandans.
The 31-year-old mother of seven traveled to Oman on September 18th through Busia border with the help of her husband, James Obed. The couple agreed that Nambereke travels overseas for casual labor and earn some money to support the family.
She opted to connect through Kenya’s capital Nairobi to Oman because Ugandan authorities ban labor export to Oman. As a result, many laborers traveling to the country enter verbal contracts with Labor companies there.
One of the laborers told this publication without specifying the duty and responsibilities of the laborer.
“So, we end up doing anything our bosses suggest for as long as they paid your travel requirements from Uganda to their country,” one of the laborers said.
With such conditions, most of the laborers get frustrated much easily. Nambereke wanted to return home after serving for five months but was blocked by her employers on ground that they had paid up to US$2,000 for her travel through a Ugandan Travel Company.
“She had to first finish her contract, which is 2 years and later be cleared to travel back,” said a source. She sent emissaries to her relatives about her deteriorating health status because of the huge work load resulting to back pain and the disease, which eventually led to her death.
Nambereke’s family went through a hard time to repatriate her remains from Oman. Uganda has no embassy in Oman as such those in need of diplomatic services rely on Uganda’s embassy in Jordan and Saudi Arabia.
When a person dies abroad, close relatives inform local authorities, which in turn consult with Uganda’s High Commission or embassy in that particular country on how to proceed. The family is expected to provide the names of the deceased, date of birth, passport number, date of issuance and next of kin.
This is followed by registration of death in Uganda before the relatives check the travel insurance policy of the deceased to establish whether it caters for repatriation. Later a repatriation provider is sought for on agreed costs and terms to return the body back home.
In such incidents, the International Police and the Ministries of Labor and Foreign Affairs are expected to communicate with the host country to ensure the body returns.
However, Mariam Mwiza, an Oversees Rights Activist, says in Uganda such government departments and agencies refuse to cooperate with relatives of the deceased, which delays the repatriation of citizens and bodies from abroad.
For instance, Mwiza says Nambereke decried inhuman treatment while in Oman and requested the intervention of Ugandan authorities in vain.
It takes close to a month to repatriate a body from a foreign country. Ayub Sooma, the manager Entebbe International Airport Security, says the huge number of Ugandans traveling abroad for casual labor has introduced various challenges because of various irregularities.
Martin Wandera, the Director of the Labor Desk in the Gender Labor and Social Development Ministry, says well as the Ministry and Interpol try as much as they can to help people stuck abroad, many of them leave the country illegally.
Those traveling for labor abroad must obtain a letter from Interpol testifying to their good conduct, a second letter from the Gender Labor and Social Development Minister and a VISA.
He however, notes that even since government suspended labor export to Oman, several Ugandans especially from Namisindwa District have traveled there without clearance from Interpol and all agencies involved in labor export, which leaves the country with limited innervations when they get such challenges.
“We are currently handling cases of more than 20 girls who left the country through the border to Oman. Well as we are struggling to return them, we need to educate our people to stop traveling to countries that have a record of harassing laborer,” said Moses Binoga, the Commissioner of police Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force.