In pursuit of better employment opportunities abroad, an increasing number of Kenyans are finding themselves ensnared by unscrupulous recruitment agencies that exploit their desperation, particularly when seeking work in countries like Turkey.

This alarming trend has revealed a nefarious network of cartels that use deceptive means to transport individuals to foreign lands.

While those heading to Gulf countries such as Qatar, Dubai, and Saudi Arabia typically travel with valid documentation, those bound for Turkey often leave Kenya without the necessary paperwork.

These individuals, desperate for employment, pay exorbitant fees of Ksh200,000 to agencies that promise to facilitate their journey, cover processing expenses, handle embassy interviews, and provide a one-way ticket.

The clandestine agencies, entrenched in a web of cartels, collude with embassy officials and banks to fabricate bank statements required for a three-month visit visa from the Turkish embassy in Nairobi. The promise is that once in Turkey, the applicants will secure work permits.

Upon arrival in Turkey, the agencies have local Kenyan operatives who host the newcomers briefly before placing them in their chosen work sectors, such as factories, hospitality, or as nannies with salaries ranging from Ksh80,000 to Ksh120,000.

Unbeknownst to many, once in Turkey, individuals are coerced into paying an additional Ksh50,000 for a working permit, which is normally taken out of the first month’s pay.

Despite the payment, these individuals are left in a precarious situation as their visit visas do not legally permit employment. Consequently, the money is lost to Kenyan cartels operating in Turkey who subsequently cut off contact.

The agencies are cunning enough to provide a return ticket that is flagged as one-way, raising concerns at the immigration checkpoint at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA).

Normally, when Kenyans are visiting foreign countries out of the continent, they are required to show proof of a return ticket.

Nevertheless, their connections ensure that when flagged, they make strategic phone calls to ensure their clients are not restricted from leaving the country.

This illicit operation has resulted in numerous Kenyans finding themselves in trouble in Turkey, with some facing deportation after being caught without proper documentation.

In November of last year, a key figure linked to one of these agencies was deported after residing in Turkey for five years without the requisite documents.

It’s important to note that Turkey, unlike many Gulf countries, offers attractive remuneration, serving as a powerful lure for job seekers from Kenya.

President Erdogan Tayyip’s manifesto last year, promising to deport foreigners if reelected, adds a layer of complexity to the challenges faced by these individuals seeking employment opportunities in Turkey.