U-OFW, OPC urge Duterte administration to continue efforts to assist stranded, undocumented OFWs in Saudi

While the Filipino community and overseas Filipino workers group in Saudi Arabia congratulates the Duterte administration for organizing a Humanitarian Mission, which objective is to provide assistance to an estimated 8,000 laid off and stranded OFWs, the United Overseas Filipino Worldwide (U-OFW) and the OFWs for Peace Coalition (OPC) urge the Duterte administration to continue its efforts in providing assistance to still thousands of stranded and undocumented.

The inter-agency Humanitarian Mission was composed of teams from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Department of Labor (DOLE) and its adjunct agencies -the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Health (DoH), the Technical and Skills Development Administration (TESDA). The mission last for three weeks starting the middle of August 2016 and ended before the Hajj holidays.

"Out of the estimated 8,000 laid off and stranded OFWs from the 9 Saudi companies, there were least 3,000 repatriated. There were 2,000 from other companies similarly situated who also seek repatriation. So, these are considerable numbers for repatriation," said John Monterona, convener of U-OFW and OPC.

In a statement issued September 19, 2016, DSWD secretary Judy Taguiwalo confirmed that there are hundreds of OFWs still stranded in Saudi Arabia.

"Based on the assessment of the team members themselves, much remains to be done because so many OFWs remain in dire straits in different part of Saudi Arabia. We have to continue our efforts to reach them and give them the assistance they need until they can return safely to the Philippines," Sec. Taguiwalo added.

Monterona said he agrees with Sec. Taguiwalo's observation. He suggested that a Humanitarian Mission 2.0 must be organized soonest and dispatch the same composition of teams because they already knew the real situation not only of the laid off but as well as the distressed and undocumented OFWs.

Monterona said his group has been monitoring the situation of distressed, stranded, and undocumented OFWs in Saudi Arabia and has estimated their numbers as follows:

� At least 800 'TNT' OFWs in Riyadh living in their own rented houses seeking repatriation assistance

� 80 distressed and stranded male OFWs with existing labor issues with their employer at the male shelter in Exit 8 villa in Riyadh (see attached photo)

� 120 female distressed and stranded, 8 with children at the Bahay Kalinga (BK) in Riyadh, (see attached photo)

� At least 40 ran away female household service workers inside the Saudi Social Welfare agency (Sswa) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

� At least 50 at the Filipino Workers Resource Center (FWRC) in the Philippine Consulate in Jeddah

� At least 3,000 'TNT' OFWs in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

� 100 inside the Sumeisy Deportation in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

"Sending them home -the stranded, distressed, and undocumented including mother and child -would be the best ever Christmas gift they only want from Pres. Duterte," Monterona ended.

Source: Philippine Information Agency

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