The Liberian government has asked Oman to stop issuing visas to Liberians after months of trafficking allegations. For the better part of the last year, sources have been reporting that Liberian women have been trafficked and mistreated to Oman under the country’s ‘kafala’ system. The Omani government, while refusing to take direct responsibility, has agreed to work with Liberia to tackle the crisis.
Earlier in September, the Liberian Ministry of Labour held a meeting with Omani officials, asking them to stop issuing visas to Liberians seeking jobs in Oman. Humaid Al Maani, Head of Global Affairs in Oman’s Foreign Ministry, said he welcomed the request and that his country would cooperate with Liberia to help the women.
However, he blamed labour recruiting agencies for the mistreatment of Liberian women, and criticised the media for exacerbating the situation between the two countries.
It’s far from the first time concerns have been raised over trafficking in Oman. Back in 2016, Human Rights Watch published a comprehensive report on the problem. At the time, Indonesia put bans in place in response to trafficking, preventing its citizens from migrating to Oman and similarly risky countries.
After Liberia’s request for assistance earlier this month, the NGO Do Bold raised alarms around the mistreatment of Sierra Leonean women. Of the 469 Sierra Leonean women they surveyed, all but one were identified as trafficking victims. “More than half of them experienced wage theft (60%) and physical abuse (57%),” they reported, “and approximately one-third of them experienced sexual abuse (27%).”