Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Pinoys in Jeddah discuss preps in case Saudi-Iran rift worsens

JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia — Leaders of Filipino communities here met with officials of the Philippine Consulate last Friday to discuss possible preparations in case tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran escalate.
Although the situation here remains normal except for some protest rallies in some areas, the Filipinos still saw the need to prepare for any eventuality.
Among the topics discussed were the shelter where Filipinos can run to in case of armed conflict, how to secure their end of service benefits from their employers in case they seek repatriation, who will shoulder their plane fares, and assistance that could be extended to undocumented Filipinos.
According to Vice Consul Alex Estomo, head of the Assistance to National Section, the consulate has designated four convergence points should the need for mass evacuation arises. They are Tabuk, Yanbu, Jeddah and the Khamis Mushayt area, all located in the Kingdom's western region.
The Filipinos were also told to always bring with them their passports so that availment of the exit visa will be speedy.
The consulate is ready to provide travel documents to those Filipinos who could not immediately present or produce their passports, Estomo said.
Estomo also said their contingency plan included those for jailed Filipinos in Saudi Arabia, although he noted that this will depend on the result of the coordination with Saudi authorities. 
Estomo also said they are closely monitoring the situation in areas near the Saudi Arabia-Yemen border after Filipino workers there reported an increase in bombing activities by warring groups. He said they are planning to establish a crisis management hub in the area to address the situation in Jizan, Samtah and Najran.
In case the security situation in the border worsens, the consolidation point for Filipinos in Najran will be at Abha province, Estomo said. —KBK, GMA News

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