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Saudi remittances double to KSh22bn amid maids abuse

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By Judith Gicobi

Even though there have been instances of abuse and inhumane treatment of foreign domestic employees in the Middle Eastern country, Saudi Arabia has emerged as the fastest-growing source of remittances, indicating an increase in the migration of unemployed Kenyan workers.

New government data show that Saudi Arabian remittances to the diaspora have increased by more than double over the last two years, according to financial transfers through official channels.

According to data from the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK), Kenyan expatriates in Saudi Arabia sent home Sh22.65 billion ($188.79 million) in the first eight months of the year.

This places the Gulf country behind the United Kingdom (25.4 billion) and the United States (Sh188.8 billion) as Kenya’s third-largest source of remittances.

The inflows have increased by 75 percent compared to Sh12.96 billion ($107.99 million) in the same period last year, and they have increased by 144.35% over Sh9.27 billion ($77.26 million) in 2020, which is the period’s fastest growth.

Millions of low-paid foreign workers, including housemaids, caregivers, nannies, drivers, and security guards, are employed in Saudi Arabia and send yearly remittances to their relatives back home.

The 35 million people living in the oil-rich kingdom make up more than 30% of the population, many of whom are immigrants from Asian and African nations.

According to CBK data, remittances from Saudi Arabia, which have surpassed South Africa as the second-largest source of money transfers from Kenyans working abroad, are on track to surpass cash transferred from the UK.

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Over 100,000 Kenyans were employed in non-domestic work in Saudi Arabia, according to Macharia Kamau, principal secretary for foreign affairs.

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