Multiple first-hand reports have exposed a high network scheme by trafficking cartels who pose as job recruitment agents to lure unsuspecting Africans into Asia for modern-day slavery.
According to the revelations, the unsuspecting victims – many of whom are young girls, are sold off to cartels who force them into sex trafficking or harvest and sell their organs to the highest bidders.
The hideous crimes against humanity have been ongoing for many decades, and the testimonies of victims who shared their ordeal are credited to the testament of modern-day slavery in Africa. However, the recent revelations were brought to light by a couple of brave Kenyans who opened up to reporters of a mainstream media outlet about how they were scammed by trafficking cartels posing as job recruitment agents in south-east Asia.
In recent times, there has been an increase in the number of job recruiters from south-east Asia posting job offers that offer tempting salaries and living conditions. They often target young girls in eastern Africa and are taking advantage of the poor economic situation in the continent at the moment.
The recruiters promise a better life and a once-in-a-life opportunity to escape from the shackles of hardship and poverty – something those who have ventured say is false. The issue became so serious that the Kenyan foreign affairs ministry had to intervene and embarked on a mission to rescue victims who were stuck in Asia, with many others dead.
As part of its rescue efforts, the ministry says it has been able to rescue more than 60 Kenyans from Laos and Myanmar within the last few months alone. The rescued victims were lured abroad with the promise of high-paying sales and customer representative job positions for individuals who can write and speak English. Unknown to them, the promise of a high-paying job was a cover to trap unsuspecting victims into forceful prostitution, cybercrime, and organ theft.
“Already one young Kenyan has died as a result of a botched operation by quack doctors operating in the Chinese-run factories in Myanmar,” the ministry said last week.
After their rescue, the ministry allowed some of the victims to speak to the media in what it said was a way of proving to others that all that glitter is not gold and when something sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t.
Requesting anonymity, a 31-year-old with a diploma in hotel management and a 35-year-old high school graduate told reporters how they had left for Thailand in August with a promise of a job with a monthly salary of $800 (£675).
According to the victims, a month before their departure, they each had borrowed nearly $2,000 to pay their agents for the trip and underwent a short training session.
Yet upon arrival in Thailand, their handlers took them on a long journey by road, eventually crossing a river into neighbouring Laos.
They ended up in a 15-storey building, which became their full-time residence – although they did not know in which town or city they were located.
They learned that instead of customer service roles, they were there to engage in cyber-crime activities – namely, to target Americans by creating enticing profiles on Tinder, Instagram, and Facebook.
Reports claim that the cartel target young and educated Africans, as they are considered best able to undertake the cybercrime work.”
“They fall in love with you and you can tell them about crypto-currency. You start stealing from them,” the 31-year-old woman said, describing in Swahili how they were both forced to work in a vast call centre-like hall with hundreds of others made up of a variety of nationalities.
Neither of them received their promised salary and were threatened with sex work or organ harvesting if they failed to lure enough victims online.
“As a woman you may be forced into sex trafficking. If that does not work they may harvest your organs and sell them to refund their costs,” she explained, her companion assenting as she spoke.
“They told us: ‘You must pay 1.2m Kenyan shillings ($10,000) to buy your freedom because we own you.”
According to the latest foreign ministry statement, some of the Kenyans in Myanmar appear to be in Kachin state, where rebel separatists are fighting the military – something that was hampering rescue efforts.
The ministry said it would not relent in its determination to rescue as many victims as possible but warned that Africans must become aware of the illicit activities which they say have taken many lives.