130 more distressed OFWs left Kuwait

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Another batch of undocumented overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from Kuwait numbering 130 returned to the country on Sunday, bringing to nearly 1,500 the number of repatriated migrant workers since President Rodrigo Duterte ordered a “labor ban” to the Gulf state, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

“Majority of them are household service workers who are grantees of the amnesty from the Kuwaiti government,” the DFA said in a statement.

“Most of the undocumented OFWs in Kuwait are victims of illegal recruitment. Many of them were recruited through social media and entered Kuwait through other neighboring countries,” it said.

Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said last week that the Philippines had already brought home more than 2,000 OFWs who were illegally staying in Kuwait after the President barred Filipinos from working in the oil-rich nation due to abuses suffered by OFWs.

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Amnesty extension

Mr. Duterte had strongly rebuked the Kuwaitis after the body of Joanna Demafelis, the OFW who was believed to have been murdered by her employers in Kuwait last year, was found inside a freezer.

 According to Cayetano, the Philippines had requested Kuwait to extend for another three months its amnesty program for illegal Filipino migrants, which was set to end on Feb. 22.

“The program will allow OFWs who overstayed their work visas to leave the Gulf state without any fines or penalties. It will also allow OFWs without proper work documents to process the necessary papers that will allow them to work legally in Kuwait,” the DFA said.

The repatriation of the undocumented OFWs, many of whom were from the provinces in the Visayas and Mindanao, were facilitated by the Office of Migrant Workers Affairs of the DFA and the Philippine embassy in Kuwait.

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Abusive employers

Philippine officials in Kuwait said they had been coordinating with their Kuwaiti counterparts to launch “rescue missions to save distressed OFWs from abusive employers and harsh working conditions.”

They had also been conducting information campaigns to warn Filipinos from being victimized by illegal recruiters, the DFA said.

The DFA said each of the repatriated OFWs would receive P5,000 in financial aid from the government “to help them resettle in the country while they search for other employment opportunities.”

“Many of the repatriated OFWs expressed their desire to work in other countries outside of the Middle East,” it said.

Source Credit: Inquirer

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