President Yoweri Museveni met Ugandans who live in the UAE and assured them of the government's commitment to ensure their safe stay in the western Asia nation.
According to the president, the government will strengthen deployment to root out human trafficking, commit funds to set up structures to host Ugandans that have temporarily lost jobs and support financial projects set up by these Ugandans.
"We talked about issues like; Human trafficking especially for our girls and working conditions etc. The government will henceforth put in place a shelter where girls can be kept when they get problems in UAE and the Middle East and also strengthen the laws on the movement of people outside the country to eliminate trafficking," the president said Monday.
"Still, in our meeting, we resolved that government will make a considerable financial investment in the Association of Ugandans living in UAE through their SACCO. This money should be availed for support to Ugandans in distress so that they do not feel abandoned," he added.
"The money also should be carefully used to engage in productive activities & get additional income. Needless to say, Ugandans in Dubai, etc, should be able to borrow from this fund with low-interest rates for use. It could be to invest there or back home."
At least 12,000 Ugandans leave for the Middle East annually in search of employment, according to the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development.
Most of these go to Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Qatar.
The ministry has said at least 98% of migrant workers in the Middle East are employed as casual labourers with only 0.2 holding professional jobs, while 1.8 per cent work in semi-professional placements.
Migrant labour export, especially to the Middle East, has played a key role in the growth of Uganda’s remittances, earning the country more than $500m in 2019.
According to the Bank of Uganda, in 2019, remittances earned Uganda $1.21b, boosted by receipts from labour exports to the Middle East.
The government has also revised the law that protects Ugandan seeking jobs abroad as follows:
Restricting ownership of recruitment companies to only Ugandan nationals, introducing pre-departure orientation training to migrant workers, and charging migrant workers unauthorised fees is a ground for revocation of a licence.
Bilateral labour agreements with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates provided that the foreign recruitment agencies shall pay all costs of recruitment and deployment of migrant workers, the negotiated agreement with Qatar provides for the same.
Recruitment agencies are not allowed to publish job adverts that have not been approved by the Ministry and acting to the contrary is a ground for revocation of a license,
The value of the bank guarantee that is used to clear any claims that may arise from migrant workers against a recruitment agency has been increased from Shs50 million to Shs100 million.
•The penalties for the offences under the regulation have increased from three months to five years imprisonment or a fine not exceeding one thousand currency points or both.