A top level mission composed of government officials and private labor recruiters is now in Kurdistan in northern Iraq to check on the availability of jobs there for overseas Filipino workers.
The mission headed by Philippine Overseas Employment Administration chief Hans Leo Cacdac and Federated Association of Manpower Exporters president Alfredo Palmiery left last week for Jordan and Lebanon before proceeding to Kurdistan.
The mission primarily intended to wrap up a standard employment contract for domestic workers in Jordan and Lebanon, where early this year Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz signed an agreement on the welfare and protection of Filipino domestics.
After their trips to Jordan and Lebanon, the mission headed to Erbil, the capital of Kurdistan, where the deployment ban was recently lifted.
Thousands of new jobs are opening up in Erbil which local Kurdish leaders plan to convert into a “New Dubai,” according to Emmanuel Geslani, a consultant of several Manila-based recruitment agencies.
“The city now has modern malls with stores of international brands and even indoor skating rinks. Many migrant workers have found good paying skilled jobs there because it’s a violence-free part of Iraq,” he said.
Geslani, citing recruitment industry estimates, said there were “a few thousand” OFWs in Kurdistan all of whom had been there since 2005. He said the recent lifting of the deployment ban to northern Iraq would now allow OFWs to go home for vacations and return to their jobs as documented workers.
In the rest of Iraq, there are still around 600 OFWs mostly working in the remaining United States military facilities, he said. The rest of the OFWs are deployed to international agencies based in Baghdad such as the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Red Cross and nongovernment organizations involved in development and financial programs in Iraq.