Thursday, February 25, 2016

Embassy urged to open hotline for jittery OFWs in Saudi Arabia

A migrants' rights advocate on Tuesday called on Philippine officials in Saudi Arabia to open a hotline for Filipino workers worried about the supposed World War III breaking in the region given the rising tensions in Syria.
In a statement, Susan Ople said her group, the Blas F. Ople Policy Center, has been receiving queries from OFWs concerned about their safety in case war breaks out between the Saudi Arabia-led coalition and Syria.
"All eyes are now on the Middle East, specifically on joint efforts by both the United States and Russia to defuse tensions in Syria so that military soldiers from Gulf countries no longer need to set foot in that war-torn country," Ople said.
"It can’t be helped that some of our OFWs are looking at such developments and are trying to decipher what the immediate future holds for their families," she added.
Ople is a former labor undersecretary and a senatorial candidate in the May elections. Her group is a non-profit organization that assists distressed OFWs.
In her statement, Ople urged the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Labor and Employment to embark on a continuous monitoring and joint assessment of the security situation in the Middle East.
"We owe it to our OFWs in the Gulf region to make sure that our own foreign policy and security experts are keeping tabs on what is going on, and what steps are needed to ensure the safety of our modern-day heroes," she said.
There are an estimated 2.1 million OFWs in the Middle East; more than a million are in Saudi Arabia.
Ople advised the OFWs and their families to stay calm, focus on their daily routines, and pray for peace in the Middle East.

" Every effort is being taken to reduce tensions in the region because no one really has an appetite for a costly and bloody war," she said. —KBK, GMA News

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