DFA seeks Syria help vs trafficking
Despite the government’s labor deployment ban to Syria, the illegal trafficking in overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) continues in the troubled Middle East country, according to Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario.
In Damascus to oversee the repatriation of thousands of OFWs from Syria, Del Rosario has brought the trafficking problem to the attention of high Syrian foreign ministry officials.
In a meeting with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem and Deputy Foreign Minister Ahmad Arnous on Monday afternoon, Del Rosario also sought their help in “facilitating the repatriation of distressed Filipinos, especially those in conflict areas such as Homs, Daraa, Idlib and Hama.”
Del Rosario also “requested the Syrian foreign ministry’s assistance in updating the Philippine embassy’s current database on OFWs” in the country.
In a statement, the home office on Tuesday said Del Rosario also thanked the Syrian government for the “widespread dissemination of information on the Philippine government’s mandatory OFW repatriation program.”
“On his arrival in Damascus (on Sunday), Secretary Del Rosario met with leaders of the Filipino community to solidify the Philippines’ campaign for the repatriation program, as well as to reiterate the DFA’s call for all OFWs to leave Syria at the soonest possible time,” the DFA said.
It quoted Del Rosario as saying the government was “fully committed to ensuring the safety and welfare of all Filipinos in Syria.”
“It is our objective to undertake the repatriation of our kababayan as quickly as possible…we will be repatriating 200 OFWs within the next two weeks and another 200 in the following weeks,” he also said.
Over the weekend, the DFA brought home another 56 OFWs from Syria, raising to over 490 the number of OFWs so far evacuated from the strife-torn nation.
There are some 17,000 OFWs, mostly undocumented domestic helpers, in Syria, according to DFA estimates.
Only 5,000 of them, however, had registered at the Philippine embassy in Damascus.
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