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Wednesday , February 26 2020

Kuwait eyes Ethiopians amid crisis with Philippines

KUWAIT CITY, March 3, (Agencies): Kuwait will begin rehiring the services of Ethiopian domestic workers after a hiatus that lasted for years, its interior ministry announced on Tuesday.

The decision has been made after a series of meetings with representatives from the Ethiopian government, the Kuwaiti interior ministry’s assistant undersecretary for the citizenship and passports department Major General Sheikh Mazen Al- Sabah said in a statement.

He pointed out that this is being done on compassionate grounds as well, with the holy month of Ramadan inching closer, which invariably means more household chores for Kuwaiti families. The Kuwaiti official made clear that the Ethiopian delegates were apprised of a raft of measures the government has taken to protect the rights of domestic workers.

Long a magnet for migrant domestic workers, he went on to say that his country is keen on exploring new opportunities in the domestic work market.

Meanwhile, Director General of Residency Affairs at Ministry of Interior Major General Talal Marafie affirmed that Kuwait and Philippines enjoy strong and cordial bilateral relations, and they share vision concerning majority of issues related to workers, reports Al-Seyassah daily.

Major General Marafie declared this recently during a meeting he held with a delegation from the Embassy of the Philippines.

The delegation, which was led by the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs at Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Philippines Sarah Lou Arriola, included Ambassador of the Philippines to Kuwait Renato Pedro O. Villa, the Consul General and his deputy.

Also in attendance from Kuwaiti side were the Deputy Director General for Residency Affairs Major General Abdullah Al-Hajeri, Director of the Central Administration for Residency Systems Colonel Hamad Al-Tawalah, Director of Financial, Administrative and Maintenance Affairs Lieutenant Colonel Jarrah Al-Adwani, Director of Domestic Workers Affairs Mohammad Hamad Al- Ajmi and concerned officials from General Department of Residency Affairs. He said the meeting was held to expedite actions on recruitment of domestic workers from the Philippines, adding that the officials discussed obstacles facing those workers as well as efforts being exerted to resolve them.

Major General Marafie said he hopes the agreement signed by both countries will be put into action quickly, revealing that the meeting discussed the rights and legal commitments of workers and their employers.

In his capacity as a board member of Al-Durra Domestic Labor Recruitment Company, Major General Marafie urged the delegation to facilitate procedures of the company and open channels for quick recruitment of workers. He affirmed that this will help in actualizing balance between demand and supply, and in reducing the cost of recruitment in a way that will be considerate for citizens and expatriates that require their services.

Major General Marafie affirmed the pivotal role to be played by the Domestic Labor Affairs Department affiliated to the General Department of Residency Affairs in following up the working hours of domestic workers as well as the payment of their salaries and entitlements.

Commenting on the decision taken by Kuwait’s Criminal Court which sentenced the Lebanese national Nader Assaf and his Syrian wife to death for murdering their Filipina housemaid in Kuwait, former head of Lebanese Lawyers Union Attorney Rashid Derbas said, “Lebanon will not extradite the convict to Kuwait, as he will be tried in Lebanon”, reports Al-Seyassah daily.

Derbas explained that the Lebanese legislation has two parts – the first part is related to local responsibility and the second is personal responsibility. The first part concerns the crimes committed inside Lebanon, and the second part concerns the crimes committed by Lebanese citizens including those committed outside Lebanon.

He affirmed that the Lebanese security authorities arrested the suspect as soon as it received information that he committed the crime and is under interrogations. Derbas said he does not expect the issue to create a dispute between Kuwait and Lebanon, highlighting the strong relations between the two sisterly countries.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) Episcopal Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People said it will support the government if ever it decides to partially lift the total deployment ban of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to Kuwait, according to news.mb.com.ph. However, Malacañang (presidential) palace maintains the ban on sending Filipinos to Kuwait is still in place although the killers of a Filipina worker – the Lebanese man and his Syrian wife – have been sentenced to death in absentia. Of the verdict, CBCP ECMI Chairman Bishop Ruperto Santos said, “It is most welcoming and encouraging news. We see here the seriousness and sincerity of Kuwait to give justice to Joana Demafelis, and protection to the wellbeing of our OFWs there.” Aside from the conviction, the Balanga prelate also cited the upcoming signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between Kuwait and the Philippines on the protection of overseas Filipino workers as another reason why they support the partial lifting.

However, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III has said he is not yet ready to recommend to President Duterte the lifting of the total ban on the deployment of workers to Kuwait. If ever, he added, a partial lifting may be considered for skilled workers but only after the formal agreement with Kuwait on the protection of Filipino workers is signed. According to Bello, the final draft of the proposed agreement and his recommendations on the protection of Filipino workers had already been sent to the President for his approval for the formal signing of the memorandum of agreement (MOA) with Kuwait.

Among the major provisions of the agreement include the prohibition of the surrender of Filipino passport to Kuwaiti employers, the binding effect of a common employment contract, the guaranteed payment of minimum monthly net pay of $400 paid through the bank, and the non-confiscation of mobile phones and other communication gadgets.

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