The government is considering stopping the travel of domestic workers to Saudi Arabia.
Appearing before the Labour and Social Welfare Committee on Thursday, Foreign Affairs PS Macharia Kamau said the decision was informed by an increase in number of cases of mistreatment and deaths.
PS Kamau told MPs that the number of reported cases has gone up since 2019. He averred that the situation was getting out of hand.
He told the committee that three Kenyans, two of which were domestic workers, died in Saudi Arabia in 2019.
Last year, the foreign affairs principal secretary said, 48 Kenyans died in the Gulf country and out of this number, 29 of them were house helps.
This year alone, 28 domestic workers have died out of 41 deaths reported.
There has been more than 1,900 distress calls by Kenyans in Saudi Arabia, MPs were told.
“These statistics indicate the reality that we face. It warrants bold decisive action to curb further suffering of Kenyan domestic workers in Saudi Arabia,” said PS Kamau.
The PS also told the committee that at least 89 Kenyans have died of “cardiac arrest” in the last two years while in the Arab nation.
The government, he said, accepted the “cardiac arrest” explanation without conducting autopsies.
Triggering a reaction from members of the committee, PS Kamau explained that his ministry was not responsible for determination of such matters.
“It is the ministry of Labour and the National Employment Authority that should do it (confirm autopsy reports), but they have reduced our ambassador to an undertaker and they want me to be a mortician,” he said.
He blamed the “dysfunctional nature” of the Labour Ministry for the problems facing Kenyans in Saudi Arabia.