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Ministry of Diaspora to become newest docket in Ruto’s government

By Hilary Kimuyu September 14th, 2022 2 min read

President William Ruto on Tuesday promised to establish the Ministry of Diaspora to address issues affecting Kenyan citizens abroad even as the government focuses to boost remittances.

In his first address to the nation following his swearing-in as the country’s fifth president, the new Head of State pointed out that his administration will ensure that the diaspora is elevated to be Kenya’s 48th County.

“The complaint has been that the diaspora has not received the attention they deserve. To correct this oversight, I pledge to elevate diaspora issues at a ministry level,” said Dr Ruto.

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The Head of State admitted that the focus on Kenyans living and working abroad has been on remittances while their fundamental rights as citizens have been neglected by past administrations.

To correct this, the new president said his government will seek to elevate the diaspora issues at a ministry level as well as strengthen diaspora services in all Kenyan missions abroad.

Dr Ruto said his government will work with Parliament to set up a committee that will exclusively deal with diaspora issues.

The select committee on Diaspora and Migrant Workers is expected to take shape in the coming days once lawmakers are placed in House team. The committee will deal with all matters relating to the protection of the rights and welfare of Kenyans in the diaspora.

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The 14-member team will handle all issues facing Kenyan nationals with dual citizenship, Kenyan migrant workers and their families abroad and Kenyans undertaking studies abroad.

Dr Ruto’s administration will also work closely with the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to expand and enhance diaspora participation in future elections.

During his one-week tour of the US earlier this year, Dr Ruto promised to introduce provisions that will make it easier for Kenyans abroad to invest in areas like housing and infrastructure without anyone taking advantage of them.

“As part of the Kenya Kwanza economic plan, you will be able to buy a house without the vagaries of you relatives taking advantage of you in a much more organized way and in a manner cheaper for you,” Dr Ruto told Kenyans in the US at a church in Maryland.

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“We will make specific packages available for you so that you can play your role and your contributions to the economy can also be meaningful.”

The US is the biggest source of remittances to Kenya, accounting for 59 per cent of the total sum of funds sent into the country this year.

The establishment of a standalone committee comes amid a jump in the numbers moving abroad in search of greener pastures and abuse cases by employers in the Middle East.

A rising number of Kenyan youth are seeking jobs abroad to escape the high level of unemployment in the country. About 1.2 million Kenyan youth join the labour market every year.