Gov't urged to prepare mandatory evacuation of OFWs in Ukraine | Global News
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Gov’t urged to prepare mandatory evacuation of OFWs in Ukraine

By: - Reporter / @MAgerINQ
/ 05:23 PM March 01, 2022

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Joel Villanueva is urging the Department of Foreign Affairs to prepare the mandatory evacuation of overseas Filipino workers in Ukraine, which is now being invaded by Russian military forces.

“We should have been prepared for an all-out mandatory evacuation of OFWs from areas of conflict from the first day Russia invaded Ukraine. We can reclaim the livelihoods of our countrymen, but we have to first save their lives,” Villanueva said in a statement on Tuesday.

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The senator noted however that as of February 28, the evacuation of OFWs from Ukraine is still voluntary.

“We need to see clear protocols on when mandatory evacuation should be carried out for OFWs in areas of conflict. Isn’t it enough for a country to be bombed for us to evacuate our OFWs?” he asked.

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Villanueva stressed that the priority is to evacuate OFWs to the safety of neighboring countries like Poland where the Philippine embassy personnel are already receiving them and preparing them for repatriation.

READ: 13 Filipinos in war-torn Ukraine safely evacuated to Poland

He thanked the DFA for this swift action.

The senator said he also understands the OFWs’ reluctance to return to the Philippines due to the lack of employment opportunities here.

“This is what we are fighting for our OFWs: the protection of their welfare while providing them viable opportunities to work in their homeland,” the chairman of the Senate committee on labor said.

Villanueva is also the sponsor and author of the law creating the Department of Migrant Workers.

In the same breath, the senator called on the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) to immediately provide OFW evacuees with psychosocial assistance to address the trauma they might have received from the conflict in Ukraine.

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They should undergo the reintegration programs even while they are still in the evacuation centers so that they can secure their livelihoods when they get repatriated, according to Villanueva.

“We believe that one day, with the help of the Department of Migrant Workers, that Filipinos would not be forced to risk their lives in other countries just to feed their families. For now, let’s help whatever we can for our OFWs in Ukraine,” he said.

OWWA Administrator Hans Cacdac already said last week that the government is ready to conduct a mass repatriation of Filipinos in Ukraine once the situation there escalates to an invasion.

READ: OWWA: PH gov’t ready for mass repatriation of Filipinos in Ukraine

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TAGS: Armed conflict, evacuation, invasion, Joel Villanue, ofws, Ukraine, War
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