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With employment agencies required to renew licenses under new proclamation
The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs (MoLSA) have received approval from the parliament to lift the ban on the migration of domestic workers, allowing all 406 private employment agencies that had previously worked in the sector to renew their license under the new proclamation.
The new proclamation requires agencies to submit one million birr in a closed account to receive or renew licenses to facilitate domestic work abroad. Before the ban, the agencies were required to show no more than 250,000 birr in their closed accounts.
In addition, the proclamation forbids agencies to send workers to countries that have not signed the government’s recruitment agreement. Currently, the government has mutual requirement agreements with Jordan, Kuwait and Qatar – the often-sought destination, Saudi Arabia, is yet to sign a deal but negotiations are underway.
Some employment agencies have heavily criticized what they see as an overzealous capital requirement, despite the government’s argument that it will create better performing employment agencies.
The agencies expressed concern that such a capital requirement will exclude agencies with the technical capacity and knowhow in the sector and the protection of domestic workers in Arab countries.
Girma Shelme, Public Relations Head at MoLSA insists that the capital requirement will create better accountability of the agencies.
“What all of us need to know is that we should only have agencies who can work in a proper office. For many years, several agencies had been working with little capital and staff, which led to poor service provision to domestic workers,” he said.
In October 2013, the government banned domestic workers from traveling abroad due to widespread physical and sexual abuse and other rights violations endured by many Ethiopians in Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and other Middle Eastern countries.
The new proclamation, in an attempt to cut down illegal migration, requires domestic workers to have certificates in evidence of least three months of training in their respective fields with eighth grade competition certificates.
MoLSA are aware that the new process will not be foolproof and have reinstated their commitment to due process. “The major reason we require the certificate and provide trainings through vocational schools is to send workers who are ready and understands things. I fworkers come to us with forged certificate swe will cross check it and bring them to court,” he said.
After the ban was placed, the number of illegal brokers and undocumented migrants increased, causing a surge in the loss of life en route and at sea. It is anticipated by many that the move to allow legal migration of domestic workers will work towards preventing deaths on the way and in the countries of employment.