Repatriates thank Kuwait govt and Philippine Embassy
KUWAIT CITY, Oct 5: A total of 47 undocumented Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in Kuwait were repatriated on Thursday to the Philippines on board the Philippine Airlines as part of the ongoing mass repatriation of overstaying Filipinos under the Assisted Voluntary Repatriation Program (AVRP) by the Kuwait government in cooperation with the Philippine Embassy in Kuwait.
The Assisted Voluntary Repatriation Program, a mutual agreement signed between the Kuwait government and the Philippine Embassy in Kuwait seeks to address the rising number of illegal expatriates in Kuwait. “We’d like to thank the Kuwaiti government, in particular the CID Immigration and all the other Kuwaiti government agencies involved in this particular repatriation. Thank you for this continuing program and for helping the embassy in implementing this Assisted Voluntary Repatriation Program successfully,” stated Head of the Assistance to Nationals Unit at the Philippine Embassy Vice Consul Charleson Hermosura who was at the Kuwait International Airport together with Kuwait Immigration officials to assist the repatriates at the airport check-in counter.
Most of the undocumented OFWs worked as Household Service Workers (HSWs) who left their employers after experiencing various forms of maltreatment such as physical, verbal or sexual abuse, non-payment of salaries, lack of food and overwork. The repatriates thanked the Kuwait government and the Philippine Embassy for processing all their travel documents. “Thank you very much to the Philippine Embassy and the Kuwaiti government for helping us go home. We’re very happy. I ran away from my sponsor because they haven’t paid my salaries for six months,” stated Fatima, not her real name. Some of the repatriates told the Arab Times that they will try to apply for work again overseas while others have decided to stay in the Philippines upon their return and be with their family. The repatriation with no detention under the AVRP continues, hence, the Philippine Embassy urged all undocumented OFWs in Kuwait to take advantage of this and go home to the Philippines. “All those who want to go home may enlist at the embassy shelter in Al Siddeeq area for the processing of their travel documents and clearance and we will do all our best to help them,” stated Hermosura.
He stressed that they should not be afraid to go to the embassy so they can be repatriated the soonest possible time. Last week, the Philippine House of Representatives’ committee on overseas workers affairs has called for a temporary ban on the deployment of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to Kuwait due to increasing reports of maltreatment and abuses.
This after the committee approved Quezon City Rep. Winston Castelo’s motion for a moratorium after receiving cases of distressed household service workers (HSW) in Kuwait. In a statement, the House said the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Department of Foreign Affairs had the mandate to implement the ban. The committee said the deployment ban, if enforced, could be lifted once the welfare and protection of OFWs in Kuwait are assured. The Philippine Embassy and the Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Kuwait are still waiting for the DOLE’s decision on the deployment ban of OFWs in Kuwait. There are around 250,000 Filipinos working in Kuwait and around 60 percent are employed as Household Service Workers (HSWs) who are mostly prone to various forms of abuses by the employers.
By Michelle Fe Santiago Arab Times Staff