Ugandan migrant labour in the Middle East are over 140,000, according to the Uganda Association (UAERA) for External Recruitment Agencies.
Mr.Andrew Tumwine Kameraho, the Chairman of UAERA says about 3000 Ugandans travel to the Middle East to work as arranged by 110 member companies of UAERA recognised by government of Uganda to export labour.
Mr. Tumwine says US$500 million is remitted to Uganda by migrant workers in the Middle East compared to US$870 million remitted to the country from other parts of the world. “This accounts for US$1.37 billion of remittances from all over the world to Uganda,” he says, noting that labour migration/placement as an industry is worth US$613 billion.
According to Tumwine, Uganda exports about 10 categories of labourers to the Middle East namely; professionals, technicians, skilled, semi-skilled, security personnel, porters, drivers, cleaners, housekeepers and catering and hospitality personnel.
However, much as Ugandan exports labour to the Middle East, the country has bilateral labour agreements with only Saudi Arabia and Jordan, meaning that its nationals who work in the two countries are recognised by the governments of the two nations and therefore are safer compared to those who work in countries with which the country has no bilateral labour agreements. Such countries which Uganda has no bilateral labour countries are; United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman and Kuwait, among others.
As the number of Ugandans most of them, the youth go to work in the Middle East, concern has been that some have died in those countries, some allegedly tortured by their employees, more especially domestic workers.
There are also concerns that some Ugandans are being ferried out of the country to the Middle East for work without the knowledge of government.