HARARE – Twenty-one human trafficking victims landed at Harare International Airport on Friday evening and could hardly hold back their tears as they told of the trauma they experienced in foreign lands.
The emotional women who had been stranded in Kuwait after falling prey to bogus employment agencies were repatriated back home courtesy of Young Women Christian Association.
This was after government had failed to raise emergency relief action to repatriate those affected.
Chairman of the parliamentary portfolio committee on Foreign Affairs Kindness Paradza, who led a delegation that welcomed the group said the women went through harrowing conditions.
“They were terrified but they are happy to be home,” Paradza told the Daily News.
“I can tell you they had a touching send-off from the Kuwait airport. They grouped together and sang the national anthem before taking the plane back home. It was so touching.”
The Makonde MP said the latest group from Kuwait is just a tip of the iceberg of desperate Zimbabweans stuck in foreign lands.
“These women are worried about their friends still out there,” Paradza said.
“The women spoke of similar stories of serious abuse. Within this group two told us they were taken to Saudi Arabia.
“They only escaped from Saudi Arabia after going on hunger strike and taken back to the agents in
Kuwait, they later escaped from these agents and found refuge at the Zimbabwean embassy there.
“But many more are still in Saudi Arabia, others were transferred from Kuwait to Egypt. It’s unfortunate we do not have an embassy in Saudi Arabia, so we have no communication with them.
“We also understand that there are others in other Arab countries.”
Paradza said the women had opened lines of communication with the police and State security agents in a bid for a speedy process of finding the perpetrators.
“In our report to Parliament on Thursday, we recommended that government must make follow-ups to make sure all girls and women still unaccounted for are repatriated back home,” he said.
“We have recommended that government sets up a special fund and not to rely on individuals. Last Monday, the Speaker (Jacob Mudenda) had a meeting with President Robert Mugabe and briefed him on how a parliamentary delegation had assisted in the repatriation of 32 women, including this group.
“We must commend our embassy in Kuwait they are doing are great job.”
A parliamentary committee on foreign affairs was on Saturday expected to travel to Palestine, Dubai and Jordan where they would investigate the treatment of Zimbabweans in those countries.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe Women in Politics Alliance (Zwipa) coordinator Linda Masarira said they were deeply concerned with the slow pace government is taking on the repatriation process for those stranded in foreign countries.
“We feel let down and surprised at the slow pace at which the government of Zimbabwe is dealing with the trapped women in Kuwait after a period stretching about a month now, this is a case of misplaced priorities by the government.”
The Zwipa founder said it was every government’s responsibility to ensure that their citizens are safe regardless of their geographical position worldwide. .
“Above everything, the government must have by now acted swiftly to bring our women back from Kuwait, we have other countries reacting urgently to repatriate their citizens from troubled countries," she said.
“For example when a church in Nigeria collapsed and killed people, countries like South Africa chartered a plane to evacuate their citizens immediately and went on to compensate the victims, why can’t our government do the same.” said Masarira.