Since the latest round in the long-standing Middle East conflict began on October 7, Israeli farms have witnessed a departure of thousands of workers. Among these were foreign workers who returned to their respective home countries and Palestinians from Gaza, who had their Israeli work permits revoked in the aftermath of the conflict.
The Malawian labor ministry announced on Monday that several hundred young individuals from Malawi have departed for Israel to work on farms left vacant due to the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian movement Hamas.
The first flight, carrying 221 youths, left Malawi for Israel on Saturday, with plans to send more in the near future as part of a new labor export program, the ministry said.
Speaking of the labor export program, Malawi’s Secretary for Labour Wezi Kayira stated that Israel was among the countries targeted by the government to provide job opportunities for Malawian youth and generate much-needed foreign exchange.
Kayira emphasized the government’s commitment to the safety of the workers, indicating that they would be placed in certified locations classified as “fit and safe” environments.
The flight departed from Malawi shortly after Israel granted the East African country a $60 million aid package amid its economic crisis.
However, the government has faced criticism from rights and governance activists regarding the handling of the labor export agreement. Some groups have called for authorities to disclose the details of the deal and ensure the protection of the workers’ rights in Israel.
Malawi’s opposition leader Kondwani Nankhumwa criticized the deal in parliament, referring to it as “an evil transaction,” stating that “no sane parent can send his or her child to a country that is at war.”
Malawi is sending unemployed youths to Israel to work on farms as part of President Lazarus Chakwera's commitment to job creation. The first group of Malawian going to Israel to work on farms in Israel left Malawi for Israel yesterday. pic.twitter.com/MHJbvdmiUc
— Man’s NOT Barry Roux (@AdvoBarryRoux) November 29, 2023
It’s worth noting that Malawian agricultural school graduates have previously been sent to Israel for employment, given the close ties between Lilongwe and Tel Aviv.