Filipinos in Dhahran Al Janoub village in the Saudi Arabia-Yemen border are calling on the Philippine government to assign a permanent rapid response team there as conflict between Houthi rebels and Saudi-led forces escalates.
"Filipino workers are clamoring for a permanent embassy team that could assist them in times of emergency,” said Susan Ople, president of Blas F. Ople Policy Center, a non-government organization that assists distressed overseas Filipino workers, in a statement Wednesday.
According to information received by the center from the affected workers, the bombings would sometimes come one after another and at any given time, making it difficult for many of them to come to work.
"Houthi rebels have been firing rockets with a range of 15 kilometers across the border, some of which have found its way into the small village of Dhahran Al Janoub," Ople said.
Ople said the team, to be composed by personnel from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE), could help in identifying and preparing an emergency shelter for workers and the deployment of a contingency plan for their safety.
“This composite team can then make a proper security assessment for the guidance of Filipino community leaders and relevant government agencies,” she said.
Ople added that a Filipino community leader in the area has informed them that the Philippine Consulate General in Jeddah recommended in July the assignment of a contingency team in Najran, which is about 110 kilometers from Dhahran Al Jonob, to look after Filipino workers that are employed in companies near the border between Saudi Arabia and Yemen
However, no official action had been taken on the the recommendation, she said.
Ople said there are around 70 Filipinos in Dhahran Al Jonoub working as medical workers, construction workers, engineers and mechanics.
More than 1.3 million people have been forced to flee their homes since the war between the Iranian-allied Houthi rebel movement and the Saudi-led Arab coalition began, the United Nations children's agency UNICEF said last August 19. —Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News