PH repatriates 2,283 OFWs, children from Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia–BaldozBy Matikas Santos
MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines has repatriated a total of 2,283 Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) and children from strife-torn Egypt and Syria and from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said in a statement.
Quoting latest figures for 2013, Baldoz said that 1,265 OFWs were brought back home from Egypt and Syria while 1,018 were from Jeddah.
Ongoing civil unrest in Egypt between supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi and the governmenthave left hundreds dead and thousands more injured.
In Syria, recent reports of chemical weapons being used in the ongoing civil unrest has prompted the United States to consider military intervention, potentially escalating the conflict further.
The Syrian rebels took up arms after president Bashar al-Assad launched a violent crackdown against the 2011 Arab Spring protests. The rebels and the government have pinned the blame for the chemical attack on each other.
The Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Syria reported that 1,250 Filipinos were repatriated this year, while 2,756 OFWs were brought back home in 2012 and 548 OFWs in 2011.
Only 15 OFWs have so far been repatriated from Egypt. The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) previously announced that one Filipino was injured from a stray bullet. Another Filipino woman was found dead inside a suitcase in a dump site but it was not yet clear what the cause of death was or whether it was related to the civil unrest.
In Saudi Arabia, 530 males, 233 females, and 255 minors have been repatriated, according to Labor Attache to Jeddah Attorney Alejandro Padaen.
“This represents 18 percent of the 5,785 Filipinos who requested repatriation assistance from the Consulate,” Padaen said in his report to the DOLE.
Some 4,509 Filipinos were still undergoing processing in the Saudi Jawazat or passport office for the issuance of exit visas.
Baldoz reassured the OFWs from Egypt, Syria and Saudi Arabia that they have prepared reintegration programs and livelihood packages. They can also coordinate with the department for redeployment to other countries.
She also urged them to always coordinate with the Philippine Embassy or Consulate if they did not feel safe so that they could be assisted in being able to go back home safe and sound.
“Should any untoward situation occur that you think will jeopardize your health or your safety, the first thing you should do is to coordinate with the Philippine Embassy Consulate and with the Filipino community leaders. Take care of yourselves and each other,” Baldoz said.