OFW Repatriation Funds Run Low; Workers Remain Stranded Abroad

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Funds for the repatriation of overseas Filipino workers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic may run out by the end of August, officials said on Friday.

Since March 22 the Philippine government has repatriated more than 56,000 of its nationals, most of whom were left jobless abroad due to the global health emergency, and nearly 38,000 more are expected to return in the coming weeks.

Official records show that up to 167,000 Filipino workers are currently stranded in their host countries, with 88,000 of them in Saudi Arabia alone.

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While the government says it wants to bring home as many of its nationals as soon as possible, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Sarah Arriola expressed concerns that the Department of Foreign Affairs’ PHP1 billion ($20 million) assistance fund for workers may be depleted by the end of August.  

She said that approximately 66 percent of the budget had already been spent, with only PHP344 million left.

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