600 OFWs expected to be repatriated from Syria – DFA
MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Thursday said that 600 more Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) were expected to be repatriated back to the country in the coming days as the government intensified its efforts to bring home Filipinos from strife-torn Syria.
In an interview with reporters, Raul Hernandez, DFA spokesperson, said that they were working out the documentation for the repatriation of 400 OFWs who had already finished their contracts in Syria.
He added that the Syrian government had given the assurance that the OFWs would be waived of their exit visa requirements.
“As soon as the papers and arrangements are made then we would be ready to repatriate them,” he said.
Last week, Foreign Affairs Secretary Del Rosario went to Syria to request waivers of the exit visas, negotiations with employers and payment of immigration penalties. This was granted by Syrian President Bashar Assad through Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem.
Hernandez also noted that they had also negotiated with the Syrian government for the pullout of at least 200 Filipinos working in Aleppo, which has become a war zone amid increasing violence in the area.
He said that they were waiting for information from the Philippine Honorary Consul to Aleppo Wassim Nanaa about the arrangements and the dates of repatriation.
He added that the 600 were part of the 1,300 OFWs who had signified their interest to leave Syria.
A mandatory repatriation and a deployment ban have been implemented in Syria since they were declared under Crisis Alert Level 4 on December 2011.