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Philippine Embassy ‘opens’ new shelter for abused HSWs Hateem shelter to be funded by OUMWA

 KUWAIT CITY, April 16: The Philippine embassy inaugurated on Tuesday the new shelter for household service workers (HSWs) who were severely abused by their employers and have sought refuge at the chancery. The new shelter located in Hateen area is in addition to the existing Filipino Workers Resource Centre (FWRC) for runaway maids at the Philippine Overseas Labour Office (POLO) in Faiha.

The inauguration was led by Philippine Ambassador Lamberto V Monsanto together with other embassy and POLO officials and staff with Rev Fr Alfred Micua officiating the blessing ceremony of the three-storey building. “Due to the limited space and special purpose, for now, the new shelter only houses special and grave cases where the abused domestic needs strong legal action and lengthy counseling,” explained Philippine Consul General Atty Raul H Dado. He outlined that those HSWs whose cases are being handled by the Assistance to Nationals Unit (ATNU) at the embassy will be staying temporarily in the new shelter.

This is in line with the embassy’s policy of prioritising the most unfortunate cases of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs). “Those HSWs who have gone through severe physical abuse and were raped will be accommodated in this shelter so we can give them more attention and help them recover from the trauma with the help of our social worker attaché while they await litigation and resolution of their cases. On the other hand, those non-ATN cases will stay at the FWRC in Faiha,” stated Dado. Around 40 HSWs whose cases are under the ATNU will be moving in to the new shelter in the next few days. “We’re just preparing everything so their stay here will be comfortable. Two female staff will be hired from Manila to stay in and supervise the wards in the shelter. Men will be strictly prohibited from staying in,” he stressed.

Currently there are around 120 distressed OFWs housed at the FWRC in Faiha who were victims of non-payment of salaries, fatigue, lack of food, physical, verbal and sexual abuse prompting them to escape from their employers. Around 30 of them are expected to be endorsed by the POLO on Wednesday to the governmentran shelter in Jleeb Al-Shuyoukh that caters to runaway maids and victims of human trafficking while waiting for their repatriation to their country of origin.

Dado disclosed that the new shelter in Hateen will be funded by the Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs (OUMWA) at the Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila. “This is upon the instruction of Secretary of Foreign Affairs Albert Del Rosario to extend the fullest assistance to all our distressed OFWs,” he cited. All ATNU staff will be shuttling between the embassy in Faiha and the shelter in Hateen to attend to all cases. “We are planning to place a free shuttle for OFWs with ATN cases to transport them from the embassy to Hateen.

We will see in the coming days,” he stated. Dado also informed that all undocumented OFWs who want to apply for travel documents have to go to Hateen for the processing of their papers. “Our ATNU team will be stationed in Hateen while the Consular team that deals with passport matters, authentication of documents and other documentation will stay in Faiha,” he pointed out. For the direction and address of the new shelter, OFWs may contact the Philippine embassy on 22528422, 22511806 or ATN hotline 5595-2909.

By: Michelle Fe Santiago Arab Times Staff

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