Wednesday, September 9, 2009

300 stranded OFWs in Jeddah

300 stranded OFWs in Jeddah awaiting repatriation
Why wait for Gloria to come? Immediately repatriate them –Migrante-ME

Press Release
9 September 2009

Migrante-Middle East, the largest alliance of overseas Filipino workers organizations in the Middle East, today said an estimated 300 stranded OFWs in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia have long been waiting for the day to come for their repatriation so that they will be reunited with their families back home.

“We received reports from our Migrante chapter in Jeddah that the numbers of distress stranded OFWs in Jeddah seeking for repatriation have reached now to 300; yesterday, they were transferred to Hajj Airport in Jeddah hoping for their eventual deportation,” said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator.

Monterona said repatriation of distress OFWs whose numbers usually swell during and after Ramadan is a recurring problem in Jeddah which the Philippine Consulate General failed to solve. “This has been the same problem on previous years,” Monterona continued.

Monterona said if deployment of OFWs abroad easily takes place within 1 month to 3 months in the maximum, repatriating ran away OFWs victim of abuses and maltreatment will take 3 months to 1 year long before they will be repatriated.

“But this should not be case, the “One Country Team” approach by the government is not working and ineffective; it must be coupled with genuine protection mechanism that would ensure that OFWs rights and welfare is being guaranteed by receiving host governments as well,” Monterona added.

Monterona said Migrante chapter in Jeddah first came to aid and has provided assistance to distress OFWs sometime in June when ran away OFWs started to build up in numbers under the Khandera Birdge in Jeddah.

“The PCG and OWWA in Jeddah was informed and urged to provide assistance to them; but to our dismay, OWWA failed to provide even food for their daily subsistence,” Monterona added.

Monterona further said other OFW groups, moved by the spirit of bayanihan, also started bringing foods and other necessary things for distress OFWs in Jeddah under the Khandera bridge; thanks to other OFW groups, but no thanks to OWWA which failed to provide assistance to distress OFWs abroad,” Monterona lamented.

“So where’s the Php.12-B OWWA fund intended for providing welfare services and assistance to distress OFWs abroad? How and where OWWA intend to spend the billions of OFWs trust fund?” Monterona queried.

Monterona said the 300 stranded OFWs now inside the Hajj Airport in Jeddah is hoping to be repatriated soon; in fact they are readying and now eager to be home and be reunited with their loved ones.

“But their repatriation will not happen any day from now until Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo arrived in Saudi Arabia reportedly in mid-September,” Monterona averred.

“Just like her previous visit in the Kingdom, she will make sure that she has a trophy to present to the public –the 300 stranded OFWs; this is cheap publicity stunt at the expense of OFWs lives and well being,” Monterona added.

“Ridiculous! The Arroyo government that endlessly peddles OFWs, also the very cause of OFWs misery, is reluctantly sending distress OFWs back home making them an object of her cheap gimmickry to deceive the public,” Monterona opined.

“With or without Gloria coming to Saudi Arabia, the hundreds of distress and stranded OFWs must be repatriated immediately as it is primary government responsibility,” Monterona ended. # # #

John Leonard Monterona
Migrante Middle East regional coordinator
Mobile No.: 00966 564 97 8012

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