On February 21, the Qatar government announced that it had blacklisted 12 Kenyan agencies responsible for recruiting Kenyans seeking job opportunities in the Gulf country.
Among the agencies suspended by the Qatari Minister for Labour and Social Services, Ali bin Samikh Al Marri included Starch, Anand, Sunrise, Dubai, Frame, Al Adam, Absher, Al Methaq, Resala, Altaaon, and Althabat.
Qatari officials noted that the agencies had violated the law and that the operation was part of monitoring efforts to preserve the rights of employers of domestic workers. Consequently, the licenses of the 12 were revoked.
Bin Samikh noted that the Qatari government was hell-bent on ensuring better treatment of immigrant workers in the Gulf state.
The decision was made a few days after the Central Organization of Trade Unions (COTU) Secretary-General, Francis Atwoli, met Bin Samikh on February 19.
Atwoli welcomed the move, adding that Kenya needed to sign a pact with Qatar that will see the latter assume responsibility for the safety and welfare of Kenyan workers in their country.
"Our position is that, like the Philippines, the Government of Kenya should embark on government-to-government agreements with the Government of Qatar. As such, the Qatari authorities will be directly responsible for anything happening to a Kenyan working in Qatar," Atwoli stated.
Notably, the Qatar Government issued an ultimatum to Kenya on the removal of employment agencies as intermediaries to ease the plight of workers. Atwoli and Al Marri agreed that the said agencies played a key role in sneaking Kenyans to the gulf states.
Prior to the meeting, Atwoli met some of the Kenyan workers in Doha who aired their grievances and solutions on how to better their living and working conditions.
In addition, Qatar had also faced unyielding pressure from workers' unions as well as activist groups questioning the safety of Kenyans following an influx of cases of immigrants complaining that their lives were at risk.
Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Macharia Kamau proposed a temporary ban of Kenyan workers travelling to the Arabian nation until a permanent solution is reached.
"As additional measures to protect the rights and welfare of migrant workers are put in place, the ministry recommends for a temporary ban of recruitment and export of domestic workers to Saudi Arabia," Macharia in September 2021.