After Philippines’ ban, Kuwait scrambles to find domestic helpers

In January the Philippines stopped sending workers to Kuwait following reports of abuse by employers.

Manama: Kuwait is in contact with 11 embassies in the northern Arabian Gulf state to coordinate the hiring of workers and reinvigorate the local market, Deputy Foreign Minister Khalid Al Jarallah has said.

The contacts are part of steps taken by Kuwait to help address challenges in recruiting domestic helpers, the official said, Kuwaiti daily Al Jarida reported on Thursday.

In January, Kuwait’s domestic work was hit after the Philippines stopped sending workers to the Gulf state following reports that abuse by employers there had driven several Filipinos to suicide.

The decision, involving thousands of helpers, sparked a crisis in Kuwait, prompting all the state agencies to seek prompt solutions.

Al Jarallah said he hailed the decision to resume hiring helpers from Ethiopia in the bid to diversify sources of workers.

On Tuesday, Interior Ministry’s Assistant Undersecretary for Citizenship and Passports Affairs Shaikh Mazen Al Sabah said in a statement that Kuwait had lifted the ban on hiring Ethiopian domestic workers after a series of meetings with representatives from the Ethiopian government.

One reason for lifting the ban was based on compassionate grounds since the holy month of Ramadan is approaching, “which invariably means more household chores for Kuwaiti families.”

Rashed Al Hajeri, Kuwait’s Ambassador to Ethiopia, told Kuwait News Agency (Kuna) that he held talks with Ethiopian Minister of Labour and Social Affairs Abdul Fettah Abdulahi on the terms for dispatching domestic workers to Kuwait.

However, the Kuwaiti authorities said they wanted applicants from the African nation to undergo a psychological test.

“I have asked the Ethiopian minister to subject those willing to work in Kuwait – namely in houses – to receive training at habilitation centres and to undergo psychological tests to avert the recurrence of some of the negative (incidents) that had led Kuwait to stop bringing in Ethiopian workers previously,” Hajeri said.

The ambassador and the Ethiopian official on working out a new deal for employment of Ethiopian citizens in Kuwait and a copy will be presented to the competent Kuwaiti authorities in the coming days.

A delegation from the Ethiopian ministries of labour and foreign affairs will visit Kuwait very soon to finalize the accord, Kuna said.

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