KUWAIT CITY - A total of 152 undocumented overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in Kuwait were repatriated to the Philippines Monday afternoon.
Their return is part of the ongoing mass repatriation of overstaying Filipinos under the Assisted Voluntary Repatriation Program (AVRP) by the Kuwait government in cooperation with the Philippine Embassy in Kuwait. This is the biggest mass repatriation since the AVRP was implemented last year.
The AVRP, a mutual agreement signed between the Kuwait government and the Philippine embassy in Kuwait, seeks to address the rising number of illegal expatriates in Kuwait.
Of the 152 repatriates, 90 were facilitated by the Philippine embassy while the other 62 were from the Philippine Overseas Labor Office and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (POLO-OWWA) shelter.
“We would like to thank the Ministry of Interior, the Kuwait Immigration Department for this continuing program and for helping the embassy in implementing this Assisted Voluntary Repatriation Program successfully,” stated Philippine Ambassador to Kuwait Renato Pedro Villa who was at the Kuwait International Airport to see off the repatriates.
Some of the 152 repatriates under the AVRP did not have to pass through the ‘Talha’ or deportation center, but were transported from the embassy shelter in Al Siddeeq area directly to the airport where they were accompanied by the embassy’s Assistance to Nationals Unit (ATNU) team led by the newly assigned Vice Consul to Kuwait Charleson Hermosura, Philippine Welfare Officer Nestor Burayag and Kuwait Immigration officials who assisted them at the airport check-in counter.
Most of the undocumented OFWs worked as Household Service Workers (HSWs) who left their employers after experiencing various forms of maltreatment such as physical, verbal or sexual abuse, non-payment of salaries, lack of food and overwork.
“Nagpapasalamat po ako sa Diyos na yong hiling ko na makauwi bago mag-Pasko ibinigay po sa akin,” said one of the repatriates, “Manang Gloria”. She has not gone home since 2009.
Other repatriates were relieved after their cases were cleared with the help of the Kuwait Ministry of Interior and the ATNU at the embassy.
The repatriates thanked the Kuwait government and the embassy for processing all their travel documents.
“Masaya ako kasi pinag-pray ko na hindi pa darating ang Pasko makauwi na ako,” stated another OFW, Lorna. Lorna was a victim of physical abuse.
The 152 undocumented OFWs were accompanied on their flight home by Philippine embassy ATNU Staff Jay Gaddi.
“The repatriation with no detention under the AVRP continues, hence, the Philippine embassy urged all undocumented OFWs in Kuwait to take advantage of this and go home to the Philippines. All those who want to go home may enlist at the embassy shelter in Al Siddeeq area for the processing of their travel documents and clearance and we will do all our best to help them,” stated Hermosura.
Currently, there are 240 wards at the POLO-OWWA shelter in Al Siddeeq area while over 140 wards are at the Kuwait government’s Migrant Workers Shelter in Jleeb Al Shuyoukh who are awaiting repatriation to the Philippines.