MANILA, Philippines – The biggest batch of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) are set to arrive from Syria as the government continues to step up repatriation efforts amid the increasing violence in the conflict-stricken country.
In statement released Monday, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said that 280 OFWs from Syria are expected to arrive in Manila in two batches Tuesday.
It said that the first batch of 263 OFWs, the biggest batch of OFWs to be repatriated from Syria, would be arriving in Manila at 7:30 a.m. by a Jordan Aviation Airlines flight JAV 437 chartered by the Switzerland-based International Organization for Migration (IOM).
It added that a second batch of 17 OFWs would also be arriving at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Tuesday at 4: 35 p.m. by Emirates airlines flight EK 332. Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Rafael Seguis, who was left behind in Syria to continue repatriation efforts, would be accompanying the second batch of repatriates.
The latest batches would bring to more than 2,400 the total number of repatriates from the strife-torn country.
Last week, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario went to Syria to facilitate the immediate repatriation of OFWs, and was able to successfully negotiate for the waiver of the exit visa requirements for the OFWs housed in the embassy there.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad ordered that the OFWs at the shelter be allowed to leave “immediately and without preconditions.”
In an interview with reporters, DFA spokesperson Raul Hernandez said that amid the increasing violence in the area, there were no reports of Filipinos hurt. He said that they we’re hoping that the situation would remain under control until they would be able to repatriate the more than 1,000 Filipinos who had expressed their intent to leave Syria.
Meanwhile, the DFA continued to urge Filipinos in Syria to take advantage of the assistance being extended by the Syrian government and apply for immediate repatriation.
It said the families of Filipinos in Syria may provide the Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs (Oumwa) with latest information regarding their next-of-kin’s present location and their contact details in Syria by calling (02) 834-4996 or (02) 834-3333.
It added that Filipinos in Syria may also contact the Embassy for assistance.