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34 more repatriated OFWs arriving from Syria

/ 05:53 PM July 24, 2012

Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez. CATHY MIRANDA/INQUIRER.net

MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Tuesday said that about 34 overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) were to arrive in the country as repatriation efforts intensified amid the worsening tensions in strife-torn Syria.

Raul Hernandez, DFA spokesman, said that the latest group of repatriates would bring the total number of OFWs repatriated from Syria to more than 1,850.

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Hernandez added that with repatriation numbers closing to 2,000, there would be about 6,000 to 7,000 OFWs left in the area.

Earlier Foreign Undersecretary Rafael Seguis left for Syria on Sunday to request the government there to simplify exit requirements for Filipino workers trying to escape the escalating violence in the country and facilitate their repatriation to the Philippines.

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The report said Seguis and six members of the government’s Rapid Response Team—composed of officers from the DFA, Department of Labor and Employment, and Department of the Interior and Local Government—were deployed to Syria on orders of Foreign Affairs Secretary del Rosario to assist the Philippine Embassy in Damascus in its repatriation efforts.

Hernandez said that if the negotiations for the easing of exit requirements for the OFWs would be successful, it would lead to more frequent and larger number of repatriations from Syria.

“We will do whatever it takes. Those are the words of the Foreign Affairs Secretary. We will repatriate everyone and we will use all the resources that we can get to take our people out of harm’s way,” Hernandez said.

Earlier, Hernandez had told reporters that Arab employers were charging OFWs trying to flee Syria up to $10,000. He also said that another challenge was the continued deployment of OFWs to Syria by illegal labor recruiters despite the escalating tensions there.

Syria has been under the DFA’s crisis alert level 4, or mandatory evacuation of OFWs, since late last year.

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TAGS: Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), Philippines, repatriation, Syria
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