Wednesday, January 12, 2011

80 distressed OFWs to arrive from Kuwait Friday

Around 80 distressed overseas Filipino workers (OFW) will return to the country from Kuwait on Friday, Vice President Jejomar Binay said Wednesday.

Binay, who is also presidential adviser on OFW concerns, said that the OFWs will be arriving from the Middle East country on Friday at 2:55 p.m via Gulf Air flight GF 156.

He said their tickets were provided by the Philippine Embassy and Kuwaiti Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor (MOSAL). 

The vice president said that since July 2010, more than 200 distressed OFWs have been repatriated en masse from Kuwait. 

Philippine Ambassador to Kuwait Shulan Primavera said the mass repatriation was done through the efforts of the Philippine Embassy in Kuwait and the MOSAL, which provided the plane tickets of the OFWs.

“I am thankful to the embassy and to Kuwait for allowing for the repatriation of our fellow Filipinos. This cooperation just shows our efforts to protect the welfare of our OFWs," Binay said in Filipino in a statement on Wednesday.

The Vice President also said that in a separate arrangement, 60 distressed OFWs arrived from Lebanon on Wednesday at 3:45 p.m via Etihad Airways flight EK 332.

They were accompanied by officials of the Lebanese government, he said.

He said the repatriation cost, which amounted to $48,000, was shouldered by the Department of Foreign Affairs’ Assistance to Nationals (ATN) Fund.

Binay’s statement did not provide details about the nature of the cases encountered by the 80 distressed OFWs from Kuwait and the 60 from Lebanon, although news reports citing Migrante – Middle East indicate that many of the cases stemmed from complaints of employer abuse.

Government records indicate that 1,555 OFWs were repatriated in 2010 — 540 in the first half and 1,015 in the second.

Citing a report from the International Labor Affairs Bureau, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said that some 13,000 distressed OFWs around the world were likewise provided legal assistance and refuge by the Filipino Workers Resource Center (FWRC) last year.

She said most of the OFWs who received assistance from the FWRC were women awaiting resolution of their cases or approval of their exit documents in their host countries. 

At present there are 20 FWRCs: six in Asia (Hong Kong, South Korea, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Singapore); 12 in the Middle East (Riyadh, Alkhobar, Jeddah, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Kuwait, Libya, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Lebanon and Jordan), one in Europe (Greece) and one in the Pacific region (Saipan).—Kimberly Jane T. Tan/JV, GMANews.TV

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