What delays aid for 11,000 stranded OFWs in Saudi?

IN CRISIS. More than 11,000 migrant Filipino workers are stranded in Saudi Arabia for months.

IN CRISIS. More than 11,000 migrant Filipino workers are stranded in Saudi Arabia for months.

MANILA, Philippines – The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) said it had started sending relief assistance to thousands of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) stranded in Saudi Arabia, but the lack of manpower and records hamper their efforts.

In a dialogue with the families of stranded OFWs on Tuesday, August 9, OWWA Director Emma Sinclair admitted that they were having a hard time extending financial assistance to beneficiaries due to the lack of a complete master list containing the names of stranded OFWs.

More than 11,000 migrant workers in 3 major cities in Saudi Arabi – Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam/Al-Khobar – have been in crisis for months after losing their jobs, said the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

Aside from the lack of database, OWWA’s efforts are also impeded with the shortage of manpower in the area, given the number of sites to be visited.

According to OWWA, 1,495 OFWs had been repatriated as of August 7. Each worker received a cash assistance of P20,000. (READ: Unpaid, stranded OFWs in Saudi may now claim aid from OWWA

Month-long intervention   

DOLE, together with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), the Department of Health, and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) will send their personnel to Saudi Arabia for a month-long intervention for the stranded OFWs from August 10 to September 10.

In an earlier statement, DFA said that the mission seeks “to provide immediate humanitarian, legal, and other consular assistance to the stranded OFWs.” They will also deliver basic care, such as medicines and social support for the jobless Filipinos in Saudi. (READ: 'Thousands of OFWs remain stranded, unpaid in Saudi Arabia' )

DSWD, for its part, said on Tuesday that it would conduct psychosocial interventions, counseling, and debriefing for the distressed workers. They also aim to monitor the situations of undocumented OFWs in crises, especially the women and the children, and facilitate the delivery of the services they need. 

“Our [fellow Filipinos] are in serious crisis because their employers did not pay their salaries. They are also confronted by many difficulties caused by the expiry of their end-of-services benefits. Many were not given exit visas after they completed their contracts, and are being delayed for repatriation,” Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo said. – Rappler.com

 

Patty Pasion

Patty leads the Rappler+ membership program. She used to be a Rappler multimedia reporter who covered politics, labor, and development issues of vulnerable sectors.

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