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Zimbabwe Govt Says 18 Citizens Working As Slaves in Oman Have Sent Distress Calls Seeking Help to Return Home

Permanent Secretary of Home Affairs Aaron Nhepera, is also chairperson of an inter-ministerial committee on trafficking of persons

Rutendo Mawere and Gibbs Dube

The Zimbabwean government says it is planning to rescue 18 citizens in Oman, who have sent distress calls, claiming that they are being abused by their employers in what appears to be a human trafficking ring.

Speaking to journalists in Harare today, Permanent Secretary of Home Affairs Aaron Nhepera, who is also chairperson of an inter-ministerial committee on trafficking of persons, said some of the Zimbabweans needing help were once extricted from Kuwait where they were being treated like slaves.

Nhepera said, “We have heard our young women being lured to Oman to work as domestic workers and the conditions under which they are working there is very much akin to slavery. Government is concerned about that development and as a committee we were deliberating on ways we can use to extricate our citizens from that situation which is certainly deplorable and unacceptable.

“Plans have been put in place to repatriate our citizens from that country … We have given each other tasks to ensure that our people are taken back home. I would also want to advise our citizens to be aware of this threat which is quite pervasive throughout the whole country. It’s not just trafficking in persons where people are going out of the country, trafficking persons is happening locally where people are being removed from their places to new places for purposes of exploitation be it in terms of labor or even sexually. So, let’s be aware of this threat, it’s quite pervasive.

He said there are also similar incidents of trafficking in which the government has intervened to bring Zimbabweans back home.

“… We have had also very unfortunate situations where we have repatriated people who have been trafficked to other countries. A typical example being Kuwait. They come back home but again they are re-trafficked to other countries. We have a very worrying situation where someone who came from Kuwait is now in Oman. She is a case which now needs repatriation but she went back on her own accord. So, it’s very worrying. Government is doing what it can to get rid of this scourge.”

He said Zimbabwean police are currently handling 18 cases but there could be as many as 100 trafficked people in Oman, who are looking for help.