23,000 OFWs from Saudi want out
There are now 23,000 displaced overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) who want to be repatriated, according to the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (Polo) in Riyadh.
Labor Attaché Nasser Mustafa on Thursday said affected workers included those whose companies have stopped operating due to the pandemic; others were on a “no work, no pay” contract; others were undocumented, and the rest runaways.
Only about 5,000 have obtained final exit visas, and some 2,000 sent home, he added.
Mustafa also belied reports about OFWs in KSA scavenging for food in dumpsters, though he said that the Polo office has temporarily suspended operations since June 14 after 16 of its personnel tested positive for the virus.
The processing of contracts is also suspended because of travel restrictions. But Mustafa said the office continues to respond to calls for assistance from OFWs on a 24/7 basis. —Tina G. Santos