Youths trafficked into slavery by the Museveni system gatecrash Ugandan embassy in Abu Dhabi
By Moses Kamya Ssentamu
A continuous sit-out at Uganda’s embassy in Abu Dhabi is exposing yet more details of how Museveni is trading away his citizens’ dignity for his greed.
After years of selling her youth into slavery, Uganda’s image is likely to suffer irreparable damage. Youths trafficked into the Middle East are pushing back against the state-sanctioned system that often leaves them trapped between their cruel employers and an insensitive government back home.
For more than a week now, images streaming out of Abu Dhabi have been showing desperate youths; mostly young women camped outside the Ugandan mission to the United Arab Emirates. In some of the videos, the youth send out appeals for help from both relatives and the government back home. That is after apparently failing to get even basic consular assistance from their country’s diplomatic representatives.
The sit-out highlights a crisis that for several months Kampala has been quietly trying to manage – through a mixture of intimidation and bribery of the few that have managed to buy their way out of slavery. That is after the efforts of crusading legislator and Mukono Municipality MP, Betty Nambooze.
By and large however, the Ugandan government has not been keen on resolving the widely reported mistreatment of its citizens by their Arab employers. That is because of the deep involvement in the gory trade by Museveni’s own family members and powerful human trafficking cartels that pledge allegiance to Museveni, according to several inside reports.
According to analysts, the sit-out in Abu Dhabi is a bad development for Museveni. Besides taking the gloss off his claims to taking Ugandans into economic prosperity, bringing the youth back home risks unraveling a very lucrative business for him and his acolytes.
“This is a hard one for Museveni because it has a global dimension that is likely to see serious pressure directed at him from people he cannot afford to ignore,” according to the same analysts. Domestically, bringing the youth back home could create a dangerous counter narrative that destroys the lies that labor-exporting companies have been peddling about external employment.
Unable to create employment at home because of a corruption-ridden, incompetent and dysfunctional state Museveni has tried to project the millions of unemployed youth as evidence of improved health and child survival. What he does not say is that despite his incompetence, the population has been able to grow largely because of the initiative of individual citizens and the large informal social welfare network of Ugandans.
These include those that work abroad and send money back home to relatives. Remittances by Ugandans working abroad are the largest source of foreign exchange. For Museveni, trafficking youths into certain slavery alleviates a deep domestic problem – mass unemployment! – while also earning him handsome sums of money in the process.
According to the testimonies of relatives of some youth who have returned home in coffins and others that escaped, sometimes, the youth are trafficked to feed the international trade in human organs. Perfectly healthy youths have been reported dead within weeks of arriving in the Middle East. After protracted processes, their bodies are sometimes repatriated, minus internal organs. They are often accompanied by post-mortem reports that make no sense to medical professionals.
Even if he did not know about the organ harvesting, Museveni cannot feign ignorance about what happens to these youth once they land in the Middle East. Once there, often they are immediately stripped of their travel documents, and sold to employers who also sometimes sell them to others on a morbid secondary human trafficking market.
For several years Ugandan journalist Yasin Kakande has tried to get his book, Slave States, reviewed and published in Ugandan media. He has not been successful. He has run into a thick wall of a silent conspiracy between Ugandan mainstream media, a corrupt state and the “Kafala” – a centuries old customs that indefinitely bonds workers to those that sponsor their employment in the Arab world.
Kakande’s book is an expose of the modern day slavery, human trafficking, sexual exploitation and general abuse of workers in the Gulf Arab Region. These are facts Museveni and his government officials know very well but have chosen to turn a blind eye to. Literally, Museveni’s greed is killing Ugandans.
Across most of the Arab world, the sponsor and employer literally own the employee as his property and it is only them that free one from bondage. The Kafala is so dehumanizing that an employer even has a right to rape his female employee.
The only caveat is that one is not allowed to rape a mother and daughter; he has to choose who of the two to turn into a sex slave.
As a self-declared avid historian, Museveni cannot say that he is not aware of these things.
He just chooses to profit from it.