The government has rescued 22 Kenyans from human trafficking cartels in Laos as more feared to be trapped in Myanmar continue to seek help.
According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in a statement to newsrooms on Friday, one Ugandan and a Burundian were also rescued in the process.
The ministry revealed that a joint effort between the Kenyan, Laos and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) led to retrieving of the 24 East Africans who are now under the care of different State agencies.
“The government in liaison with the Government of Laos and IOM has rescued 22 Kenyans, a Ugandan and a Burundian from trafficking cartels in Laos. It is now emerging that there could be hundreds of mostly young Kenyans working in ‘fraud factories’ in South East Asia,” stated the ministry.
“The 24 East Africans (22 Kenyans, 1 Burundian and 1 Ugandan) have since returned home with the help of HAART Kenya and the IOM Lao PDR.”
The government suspects that some of the factories where the people were rescued could be facilities for extracting and storing human organs.
As the ministry notes the resurgence of the once illegal business of human trafficking, it says that it is now spread across the continent with cartels luring young people under the guise of well-paying jobs.
“The human trafficking menace once considered an endemic problem in ASEAN is now going global. The cartels are now venturing into other parts of the world, particularly Africa and South Asia, luring a new breed of victims,” added the ministry.
“They have established local networks and gangs that help them either lure the victims or transport them through various countries in the region. This new breed includes young and techno-savvy individuals, well-educated, computer literate, and multilingual. Others are offered training in computer applications for ten days before commencing ‘work.’”
The ministry explained that the youth are the most preferred due to their ability to conduct crimes as well as their output in terms of productivity.
Citing a case scenario of a victim who was rescued, the ministry said that they had been promised a salary of $2000 (about Ksh.241,000) a month, but cautioned that if one does not meet the expectations then they will be required to refund $15,000 (about Ksh.1.8 million) as compensation for ‘damages’ to the employer or are tortured.
“The Kenyans, like hundreds of other foreigners from the region, South Asia and Africa, are lured by irresistible adverts promising lucrative perks and easy workloads. Once ‘work’ commences, those who fail to meet the performance targets are tortured, whipped or locked up in dark rooms alone for days on without food,” stated the ministry.
“The lazy or sick ones are either sold to third parties or they are kicked out without any money or passports. Those who want to go away must cough up to $15,000 as compensation for the expenses the cartels used to traffic the victims.”
Citizens have been cautioned against falling prey to such individuals who entice them with promises of huge salaries in South Asia countries without authenticating the credibility of jobs.
“The government once again, warns Kenyans to stop applying for online jobs that are advertised in South East Asia without authenticating them, as this exposes them to dangers including the possibility of losing body organs,” the ministry noted.
“To this end, the Ministry calls for concerted efforts by parents, media houses, church leaders, and imams as well as MPs/Senators/Governors to sensitize their constituents against applying for fake jobs in such dangerous environments. There are no sales and customer care jobs in Thailand or other countries in the ASEAN region.”
The ministry added: “The majority of the Kenyans are lured to travel to Thailand or Malaysia on tourist visas, but in the real sense, they are being trafficked across the border to the ‘fraud factories’ once they have landed.”