FIFTY social welfare officers, deployed by the government to “clean up the mess” following the rescuing of several Zimbabwean women trafficked to Kuwait on the pretext they would get lucrative jobs, have been denied visas by the Gulf country.
Source: Kuwait denies govt visas to rescue Zim women – NewsDay Zimbabwe March 15, 2017
by VENERANDA LANGA
This was revealed by the chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs, Kindness Paradza, after Foreign Affairs deputy minister Edgar Mbwembwe responded to a motion on a bilateral visit to Kuwait.
Mbwembwe had told the House that when his ministry intervened in the matter of the distressed women, the Kuwaiti government was co-operative and even assisted in identifying the victims and arresting the human trafficking syndicates.
“What is worrying is that the Kuwaiti embassy has denied visas to social welfare officers from the Ministry of Public Service that are supposed to go there for clean-up operations,” Paradza said. “As MPs, we have set up a committee of Parliament against trafficking of humans and we work together with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) to ensure we assist these returnees to embark on income-generation projects and the fund has been set up through IOM.”
In his statement, Mbwembwe said the Kuwaiti embassy estimated that at least 50 Zimbabwean women were still stranded in Kuwait while 10 were in Saudi Arabia. He said Kuwait assisted with identifying Zimbabwean women and collecting their personal belongings.
Mbwembwe said a total of 161 women were repatriated, with 33 assisted by relatives, 28 assisted by Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda’s Young Women’s Christian Association and 32 assisted by businessman Wicknell Chivayo after MPs asked him to do so. One was assisted by her employers and the rest got help from the government.
“Government of Kuwait is identifying Zimbabweans issued with Article 20 visas with a view of returning them to Zimbabwe and facilitate their immediate repatriation, as well as helping in identifying Zimbabwean criminals involved in human trafficking syndicates,” Mbwembwe said.
Mbwembwe said some of the steps government had taken to curb human trafficking were stopping issuance of Article 20 visas by Kuwait.
He said around 200 Article 20 visas were issued, but out of that number only 15 were issued through the Kuwaiti embassy in Harare while the rest were done by criminal syndicates.