In line with the Duterte administration's response to the crisis affecting stranded Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) humanitarian team, led by Undersecretary Vilma B. Cabrera, is now extending assistance and services to the distressed OFWs and their families.
It can be recalled that the DSWD team left last week to join the month long mission led by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
As of August 22, of the 3,193 reported OFWs in 21 campsites in KSA, the three DSWD teams were able to provide assistance and debriefing and counseling services to 1,802 OFWs in Riyadh, 1,062 in Al Khobar/Dammam, and 329 in Jeddah.
The DSWD team also provided food and hygiene packs amounting to Saudi Riyals (SAR) 180,654.38 or $48,174.50 to the distressed OFWs.
Based on interviews conducted by the team members with the OFWs, some 1,575 have expressed their intention to go home.
Other agencies are also providing welfare services to OFWs such as legal assistance in filing money claims by the Public Attorney's Office (PAO), Medical, Mental Health/Psychosocial Processing (MHPSS) given by the Department of Health (DOH), profiling of Filipinos for training and competency assessment under the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), and registration of OFWs for the Department of Labor and Employment's (DOLE) "Assist W.E.L.L." (Welfare, Employment, Livelihood and Legal) program.
In the following weeks, the DSWD team plans to reach out to more OFWs living outside the camps due to reports that about 200 distressed OFWs living outside Saudi Oger and Bin Laden camps are in need of medical and relief assistance.
In addition, more OFWs in Riyadh and Al Khobar who do not belong to the three big companies and the subcontracting companies originally targeted by the inter-agency teams are seeking for repatriation and assistance.
DSWD Secretary Judy M. Taguiwalo has expressed her support to the team members in KSA.
"The members of our team are currently doing the best that they can to analyze the situation of distressed OFWs in Saudi Arabia. We will provide them with immediate assistance as well as ensure their successful reintegration after they return to the country," assured Sec. Taguiwalo.
She also called on the families of the OFWs here in the Philippines to advise their family members who have been affected by the crisis in KSA to proceed to the Philippine Embassy to coordinate with them on the assistance they need to ensure the safe return of their relatives.
Humanitarian teams have been assigned in the following areas to assist the OFWS: Qadisiyah Saudi Oger Takhassusi in Riyadh; M-Al Barghash, Saudi Oger at Jori Hotel Camp in Al Khobar/Dammam; and, at Inmam Company Saudi Bin Laden, Al Salama Saudi Oger in Jeddah
Source: Philippine Information Agency