250 OFWs to arrive from Syria-A A +A
Wednesday, September 5, 2012
FOREIGN Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario has facilitated the repatriation of some 250 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) stranded in strife-torn Syria without their having to comply with exit requirements.
In a statement issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), del Rosario and Undersecretary Rafael Seguis, who are both in Syria to personally oversee repatriation procedures, were able to secure the Syrian government's assistance in repatriation efforts.
The DFA officials met with Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban, Syrian presidential adviser for political and media affairs, to request the immediate repatriation of some 250 OFWs currently in the Philippine embassy's shelter, without the usual exit visa requirements, as was done earlier in August where 200 other OFWs were able to leave without paying any exit visa fees at the Syrian Immigration and Passport Directorate.
Del Rosario also requested Shaaban's assistance in facilitating the repatriation of another 1,300 OFWs who have openly expressed their desire to go home to the Philippines, as well as about 2,400 others who are known to have been deployed in Syria, but have not manifested their intention to return to the Philippines.
"The secretary also explained that, although these workers are staying in Syria legally, most of them were illegally recruited from the Philippines and may, thus, be considered as victims of human trafficking. The secretary expressed his thanks to Syria for the good treatment many Syrian families have given Filipino workers under their employment, particularly in treating them as part of their families," the DFA statement said.
Shaaban gave assurance that she will make a call on Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem for him to accommodate the requests of the Philippine delegation.
The DFA also said that del Rosario then received a phone call from Deputy Foreign Minister Ahmad Arnous, informing him of the secretary of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s orders to waive the exit visa requirements for all the OFWs in the shelter, immediately and without preconditions.
Del Rosario earlier said that the International Organization for Migration has agreed to provide a chartered flight back to Manila for the Filipinos, mostly domestic workers, sheltered at the embassy. (JCV/Sunnex)