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Kuwait bans domestic workers from 25 countries

On December 7, 2019

Kuwait has banned the recruitment of domestic workers from 23 African and two Asian countries, according to a new circular issued by the General Directorate of Residence Affairs of Kuwait’s Ministry of Interior.

According to the new regulations, domestic workers from Ivory Coast, Madagascar, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria and Togo, and female domestic workers from Senegal, Malawi, Chad, Sierra Leone, Niger, Tanzania, Gambia, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Burundi are not permitted to be employed in Kuwait.

Domestic workers from Indonesia and Bhutan have also been banned. 

Over the past two years, Kuwait has periodically banned or lifted bans on domestic workers from several countries. A circular issued at the end of April 2019 Included all of the countries listed above, except for Indonesia. 

According to advocates in Kuwait, the bans are implemented mainly because countries lack labour cooperation and embassies in Kuwait. The Ministry of Interior has also previously cited lack of representation as the rationale for the ban. However,  Kuwait has previously lifted bans on countries that do not have an embassy in Kuwait in order to reduce recruitment costs and address labour shortages. 

Meanwhile, negotiations on the domestic workers’ standard contract with the Philippines have come to a halt after Kuwait rejected a clause that allows domestic workers to sue their Kuwaiti sponsors from any part of the world.

Kuwaiti officials claim that the clause exposes Kuwaitis to legal prosecution when they travel and is an infringement on Kuwaiti sovereignty.

The Chairman of Kuwait Union for Domestic Labour Recruitment Offices, Khaled Al-Dakhnan, revealed that the Union is seeking to address the labour shortages in Kuwait through negotiations with several embassies.

“The Union seeks, through communicating with embassies, to open new recruitment channels to fill the shortage in the domestic labour market. The union demands concerned authorities, especially the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to communicate with several countries, including Indonesia, Ethiopia and Nepal, to sign joint work agreements.” He added.