Use of Cheap Child Labor from Rwanda on the Rise

1835 Views Kabale, Western Region, Uganda
Child rights organization say there is a proliferation of Rwandan children being exported into Uganda for illegal child labor. Leonard Tumwesigye, the Executive Director of Children Rescue Voluntary Organization in Kabale, says a large number of Rwandan children enter Uganda everyday to be used for cheap labor. Tumwesigye says that once in Uganda they are used as herdsmen, domestic workers and in bars and restaurants. Most of them are abused by their employers and paid a pittance, forcing them to the streets of Kabale town to beg for money. Tumwesigye says the problem is hard to solve because of the open borders between Uganda and Rwanda along the Kabale district line. One of the children who was caught in the child labor trap is 14-year-old Gilbert Owayezu. He was arrested by police on Saturday night for being idle and disorderly. Owayezu is still in police custody awaiting deportation to Rwanda. He says his father, a lorry driver, was killed in the Democratic Republic of Congo during fighting between the Congolese government forces and rebels allied to General Laurent Nkunda. Owayezu claims that a Ugandan businessman called Boss Kekubi invited him to work as a shamba boy and herdsman in Kabale. Kekubi promised him monthly wages of 5,000 shillings, but he was never paid. After six months, Owayezu quit his job. Leonard Tumwesigye says Owayezu's story is typical of many children from Rwanda. He says that last month 10 young boys were deported to Rwanda for loitering on the streets of Kabale. Many more are believed to live as slave laborers in Kabale homes and plantations. Milly Nyakato the head of Family and Child Protection Unit at Kabale Police Station says many Rwandan children are brought into the country through the Bunagana border post in Kisoro. She says every day she registers at least two cases of child labor involving Rwandan children and the police needs help to curb this problem. Nyakato says the police are working with civil society organizations to track down the child labor rings and bring to book those responsible for the crime.

 

Tagged with: children child labor