KUWAIT: Minister of Social Affairs and Labor Hind Al-Sabeeh (center right), Ethiopian Ambassador to Kuwait Abdulaziz Adam (center left) and other officials cut the cake during a ceremony held to celebrate Ethiopia’s national day. – Photo by Joseph Shagra

KUWAIT: Kuwait is working on establishing a shelter for male workers similar to a building already sit up to house abused female domestic helpers, a government official said. In the meantime, there are plans in place to relocate the women’s shelter to a bigger and safer location, Minister of Social Affairs and Labor Hind Al-Sabeeh added.

The minister made her statements to reporters during a reception organized by the Ethiopian embassy Wednesday night to celebrate Ethiopia’s national day. Sabeeh was asked about a labor agreement between Kuwait and Ethiopia, to which she explained that the ministry is waiting for the Foreign Ministry to finalize said agreement and the legal procedures related to it before it is referred to the Cabinet for approval.

In April, the Interior Ministry had announced lifting a ban on hiring Ethiopian domestic workers after a series of meetings with representatives from the Ethiopian government. However, Ethiopia said that it would not lift a ban on allowing its citizens to work in Kuwait unless Kuwait’s Foreign Ministry responds to a letter it had sent with regards to this matter, according to statements Ethiopian Ambassador to Kuwait Abdulaziz Adam made to the press at the time.

The letter included a draft of the new agreement on the return of Ethiopian workers to Kuwait, the ambassador said. The new deal stipulates granting Ethiopian workers a paid annual holiday, specifying clear working hours, allowing workers to keep their passports with their possession, and giving them salaries equal to those received by helpers from other countries.

Minister Sabeeh reiterated on Wednesday that after the transition of the Domestic Help Department from the interior to the social affairs ministries is completed, meetings will be held with the Ethiopian ambassador to make arrangements “that serve the interests of employees and employers alike.”

Meanwhile, Ambassador Adam expressed appreciation to Kuwait’s support for Ethiopian projects, which exceeded $150 million in financial aid through the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development. The envoy applauded the ‘historical relations’ between the two countries which date back to 1967, hoping for further enhancement of relations for the best interests of the two countries.