A twenty two year old Gambian girl, who was trafficked to the Gulf State of Kuwait, and sold to Arab slave masters, is on the verge of reclaiming her freedom, the Freedom Newspaper can reveal. Zeinab Kebbeh, a resident of Talinding, was trafficked to Kuwait in August of 2015, by a Gambian couple Mrs. Aji Fatou George and one Dr. Ngum. Mrs. George is from Talinding. She now lives at Brusubi together with her husband.
During her forced labor sojourn to Kuwait, Ms. Kebbeh said she was compelled to work for long hours without off day. She works more twenty hours a day, and was paid less than one hundred United States dollar per month. Kebbeh hardly stays long with her Arab slave masters. She would engage into a fight with her fellow maids with the hope that she would be expelled out of the country, so that she can return to her native country, The Gambia. Kebbeh said she has been detained on two occasions by the Kuwaiti police.
Mrs. Zeinab Kebbeh graduated from The Gambia High School in 2010. She could not secure employment opportunities at the time of her graduation. She then met her neighbor Aji Fatou George, who told her that she could help her travel to Kuwait to work as a maid. Mrs. George told her that she could secure her travel papers, visa and an air ticket to Kuwait and once she starts working she should pay her D50,000 dalasi to foot for her travel expenses. Kebbeh agreed.
Once her Kuwaiti visa arrives, Ms. Kebbeh travelled by road to neighboring Senegal, where she boarded a flight to Ethiopia, Mali, and then Kuwait. She was received on arrival in Dakar by a Senegalese human trafficker, one Tijan, and a Gambian lady, whose name she said she couldn’t remember.
Zeinab said she was told by Mrs. George and her husband, who goes with the street name Dr. Ngum, that the work in Kuwait wasn’t hectic. But to her surprise, she said she was overworked all the time she was in Kuwait.
It was on January 24th, that Zeinab Kebbeh, contacted her brother, who lives in the UK, informing him that she was detained by the Kuwait police after she fought with another maid of her boss. The maid she fought with came from Egypt. Zeinab maintains that she desperately wanted to return home, and was in need of help from her family to leave Kuwait.
In an interview with Freedom Radio Gambia on Sunday, Zeinab said she has made repeated attempts to contact her traffickers in The Gambia, Aji Fatou George, and Dr. Ngum to help her leave Kuwait, but the couple wouldn’t come to her aid. She tells Freedom Radio Gambia that the couple had completely avoided her. She said Fatou George in particular was more concern about recovering the D50,000 dalasi she purportedly owed her.
Reacting to the story, both Mrs. George and Dr. Ngum confirmed that they facilitated the trip of Ms. Kebbeh to Kuwait. This reporter had earlier pretended to be trying to help one of his loved ones to travel to Kuwait to secure migrant work. He was told by George and Ngum that they have stopped trafficking girls to Kuwait.
According to Mrs. George, some of the girls, they assisted to travel to Kuwait, have not been behaving well. She said the girls often engaged in fights with their employers and so on.
“We assisted Zeinab Kebbeh to travel to Kuwait. My sisters live in Kuwait. My husband and I, are their agents here in The Gambia. When we first started we helped our neighbors in Talinding for free of charge to travel to Kuwait. Zeinab is one of the girls we assisted to travel. But she has not been behaving since she arrived in Kuwait. She hardly get along with her employers. She doesn’t want to work. Our people are not easy to help. We have stopped taking people to Kuwait for now,” she said.
When told that she charged D50,000 dalasi to Zeinab, in order for her to travel to Kuwait, both Mrs. George and her husband Ngum flatly denied such assertions. The couple maintained that Zeinab was never charged a dime.
“We are working on trying to secure the return of Zeinab Kebbeh and another Gambian girl Fatou Jagne to The Gambia. Such arraignments are done under our own expense. Both Zeinab and Fatou Jagne want to return home,” Dr. Ngum told Freedom Radio Gambia. Ngum used to live in Spain. He said they are running a legitimate business in The Gambia by sending Gambian girls to Kuwait.
“It is erroneous for anyone to suggest that we are in the business of selling or trafficking Gambian girls to Kuwaiti Arabs. What we are doing is not illegal. The government is aware. We charge between 10 to 15,000 dalasi per girl, to help them secure employment opportunities in Kuwait. Due to the recent behavior of the girls, we have decided to halt the business for now. We are trying to contribute our quota to national development by helping our girls to travel to Kuwait. Some of the girls have succeeded in building nice houses for their parents here in The Gambia,” he said.
Dr. Ngum has accused Senegalese Custom agents of corruption and jealousy. He said each time that he and his wife trafficked Gambian girls via the Dakar airport, they would bribe Customs agents.
“There is too much corruption at the Dakar airport. In order to have our girls to board the flight from Dakar, we have to bribe them. The Senegalese are jealous because The Gambia has an opportunity to secure Middle Eastern visas for migrant workers. There is development in this country. They know that The Gambia is developing rapidly. As such, airport workers in Dakar, charged us money before our girls are able to board any flight from Dakar to Kuwait,” he alleged.
Meanwhile, Zeinab Kebbeh has been released from police custody. She was escorted to the airport on Sunday, with no cash and was supposed to board the next available flight to Dakar, Senegal, Abdou Touray, Zeinab’s brother told the Freedom Newspaper.
Written By Pa Nderry MBai
E-mail: [email protected]