Sunday, May 12, 2024

Government Urged to Draw Plans for 5,000 OFWs in Danger on Saudi-Yemen Border

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The government has been urged to draw up a plan to protect up to 5,000 Filipinos facing risks from worsening security situation along the Saudi Arabia-Yemen border.

A Saudi-led coalition waging battle against Shi’ite Houthi rebels, inevitably putting lives of civilians including migrant workers in danger.

In a press conference held in Manila, Susan Ople of the Blas F. Ople Policy Center has urged the government to send a team from Department of Foreign Affairs to assess the situation and identify possible evacuation sites, giving Filipino workers peace of mind.

Ople was joined by John Bertiz, who owns a recruitment agency; Jun Aguilar, head of the Filipino Migrant Workers Group; Lito Soriano, owner of LBS Recruitment Solutions Inc.; and Luther Caldereon, who is involved with giving Pre-Departure Orientation Seminars to outbound Filipino workers.

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Ople said that Filipino workers in Najran, located just close to Saudi Arabia’s border with Yemen, are reporting between 15 and 80 bomb explosions daily.

“The workers that I have spoken to have no idea where the bombs are coming from, or (where they) are headed to. All they said was that the risks are now higher because explosions can be felt and heard even at night,” Ople said. She was told that bombings used to be heard only during daytime but now explosions rock the workers’ living quarters.

She said there is confusion among affected Filipino workers about where they should seek shelter as both their workplace and accommodations are possible target of attacks.

Four workers have already sought the help of the Ople Center for repatriation, she said, not only because of the worsening situation but also because of violations of their work contracts. The requests have been referred to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration.

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Likewise, Ople has also urged the government to ban deployment of workers in the Najran region and asked the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration to send staff to visit Filipino workers in Najran.

“OWWA has sufficient funds to do this, and most, if not all, of the workers in Narjan, are active OWWA members,” Ople said.

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