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2,400 Filipinos asked to leave Yemen as conflict worsens

MANILA, Philippines – The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) has joined other Department of Labor and Employment-attached agencies, as well as the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), in appealing again to the nearly 2,400 Filipinos in Yemen to avail themselves of the government’s mandatory repatriation program following the continued deterioration of the political and security situation in the West African nation.

In an advisory over the weekend, the OWWA said Philippine nationals should coordinate with the crisis management team (CMT) in the Yemeni capital of Sana’a.

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OWWA head Rebecca Calzado noted the agency was “part of the CMT, composed of officials from the DOLE and the DFA” and has been monitoring the situation in crisis-hit countries to ensure the safety of overseas Filipino workers.

“If immediate action is needed, the CMT automatically activates its committees to respond to the situation,” she explained.

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In Sana’a, the CMT holds office at the Movenpick Hotel on Berlin Street. It can be reached through tel. +967.73.384.4958.

Filipinos there may also contact the Philippine Consulate on Damascus Street in the Hadda Area through tel. no. +967.1.416.751.

According to Calzados, 2,391 Filipinos work in Yemen as nurses, household service workers, engineers, technicians and mechanics.

“The continued occupation of the capital city by Houthi rebels and the recent suspension of the operation of several embassies in Sana’a were the basis for the DFA’s heightened alert level for Filipinos in Yemen,” she said.

The OWWA appealed to the relatives of OFWs in Yemen to “convince their loved ones to come home to safety.” Returning OFWs will be provided with the usual airport and transportation assistance by OWWA personnel.

However, the one-time cash aid of P10,000  “can only be released to them once the program is approved by the OWWA board,” which, would meet later this month, said the OWWA.

The body is chaired by Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz.

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In December 2013, seven Filipino medical workers were among 52 people killed during a suicide bomb attack on the Yemen defense ministry complex and the subsequent shootout between Yemeni government forces and suspected terrorists.

In February 2014, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration lifted the ban on OFW deployment to Yemen following the DFA’s lowering of the crisis alert level to 2, which only called for restrictions on essential movements.

Late last year, the DFA raised alert level 3 and called for the voluntary repatriation of Filipinos.

The POEA has maintained its ban on all new OFW deployments to Yemen, and those returning from vacations in the Philippines.

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TAGS: Armed conflict, Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of Labor and Employment, Global Nation, mandatory repatriation program, Overseas Filipino workers, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, OWWA, Politics, Rebecca Calzado, Rosalinda Baldoz, Security, Violence, War, Yemen
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