Organ harvesting: Ugandans flying to Middle East for work, returning to undergo mandatory testing

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In the wake of increases of organ harvesting, government has announced mandatory testing for all Ugandans going abroad, especially to Middle East countries  for work and those returning home because of the same purpose.

Of late, several cases of Ugandans especially the migrant workers with internal organs, mostly kidneys harvested have increased.

The Nile Post has however learnt that government has mandated the Ministry of Internal Affairs to start mandatory testing of Ugandans going abroad for work especially through labour companies and those returning home.

A May, 27, 2022 notice by the Office of the Prime Minister to all immigration officers says that all Ugandans travelling to Gulf Cooperation Council for employment will have to undergo a mandatory check for internal organs and trauma injuries before leaving the country and on landing at the airport.

“As you are all aware there have been numerous instances of accusation of organ trafficking or physical abuse which may or may not be true. However, Uganda risks losing the labour export business opportunity if these accusations continue. The stories of Ugandan migrant workers coming back with missing organs and having been subjected to physical abuse are of grave concern to government of Uganda. Therefore, the primary aim of government is to ensure the safety of its citizens working abroad,” the letter says in part.

According to the Office of the Prime Minister, the Internal Affairs Ministry will be setting up an authorized centre  to do the checks at Bukoto at the premises of the former Kadic Hospital operated by UMC Victoria Hospital .

“This unit shall be responsible for the tests as well as yellow fever vaccination. The processes and charges for this shall be strictly governed and regulated by the Ministry of Internal Affairs,” the notice adds.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs spokesperson, Simon Peter Mundeyi confirmed the development on Monday.

“In order to take away any allegations of organ harvesting, the Ministry of Internal Affairs is set to start mandatory testing of Ugandans going abroad for work and those returning from work. If you are leaving the country, they will have to first check you to confirm you have all your organs and this will also be done to those returning,”Mundeyi said.

Whereas the Office of the Prime Minister notice indicated that testing will be done to  those going and returning from Gulf countries, Mundeyi said all those going abroad for work irrespective of the country will be tested.

Gulf countries include Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates and this is where most Ugandans go for work abroad.

Mundeyi  told this website that this will be done for those who go through labour companies, adding that those who go on individual basis will not be checked since it will not be easy to ascertain the reason for their flying abroad and back.

“Even if check you on returning to the country, may be for leave and a few days or months you want to fly back abroad for work, we shall test you again,”Mundeyi said.

Once bitten, twice shy

The development comes on the backdrop of several reports of Ugandans, especially those working in Middle East countries who have had their internal body organs, especially kidneys harvested.

The directors of Nile Treasure Gate, a labour export company are currently on remand in Luzira for taking abroad a  Ugandan migrant worker whose kidney was  later removed while working in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Judith Nakintu, was recruited in 2019 by Nile Treasure Gate Company as a housemaid to work in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and flew on December 12, 2019.

However, while working as a housemaid Saad Dhafer Mohamed Al-Asmari , Nakintu lost her right kidney in questionable circumstances while at King Fahad Hospital in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Whereas authorities in Saudi Arabia said she had been involved in an accident that left her paralysed, a medical examination and subsequent report done in Uganda indicated that her right kidney was missing.

So many other cases have been reported but some have turned out to be fake.

“There is no integrated framework for the monitoring of the welfare of migrant workers. We have seen some countries like Philippines have put in place a monitoring mechanism for their migrant workers and is funded and taken care of by government but the same is not the case for Uganda.  However, the Ugandan government has shifted this burden to individual companies yet this is not possible,” said UAERA chairperson, Baker Akantambira recently.

“You are well aware that a director of a company in Uganda cannot do much outside Uganda. The most he can do is making a telephone call to find out the wellbeing of the person they externalized. The legal framework in that country is a problem. A girl is in a house suffering, what can you do as a director of a company here in Uganda to save her? The monitoring framework should be national and government should do this.”

Uganda and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 2021 signed a bilateral agreement in which they agreed on mechanisms for orderly and safe labour export but not any other countries.

“Ugandans are already in Oman, Kuwait, UAE and many other countries but our government doesn’t have bilateral agreements with these countries. This means Ugandans are working under unclear circumstances. It means follow up and monitoring of the employer’s actions is very difficult. The bilaterals should be fixed as soon as yesterday. Why does it take many years for a government to government to fix a bilateral,” Akantambira noted.

“If some Ugandans are not tracked well, especially in countries that don’t have bilaterals, they can be a security risk. Don’t be surprised a youth who was recruited as a driver going to UAE ends up in a neigbouring country joining the negative forces.”

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