Friday, April 21, 2017

150 distressed OFWs in Saudi Arabia turn up for amnesty

OFWs applying for exit visa in Jeddah. --Ronaldo Concha
Philippine foreign officials in Saudi Arabia early on Thursday morning accompanied some 150 undocumented OFWs to the deportation center (shumaysi) in Jeddah to get their exit visa as they take advantage of the Kingdom's amnesty program for runaway foreign workers.
Sources from the Philippine Overseas Labor Office and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration in Jeddah told GMA News Online that the OFWs, together with POLO and OWWA officials, left the consulate on four buses at past 6 a.m. 
Aling Leny, wife of a runaway (huroob) OFW who was deported in November last year, told GMA News that she is taking her chances of getting an exit visa to correct her record under the 90-day amnesty program.
She said that the amnesty program was her only hope to return to the Philippines with a clean record from the Saudi government.
“Binigyan ng release ang mister ko pero hindi na delete ang huroob status niya (runaway) niya. Kaya nung nadakip sya ay nadeport sya, Nagpunta po kami sa consulate ng ma-deport ang mister ko pero sinabihan kami na hold muna dahil may minor kaya naghintay kami hanggang sa maabutan na kami ng amnesty,” Neny said.
Many OFWs who have applied for exit visa have huroob status, she said. 
One of the qualifications to avail of the amnesty program is the huroob status.
Last year, over 11,000 OFWs in the kingdom alone were rendered jobless due to the oil slump and the Saudization program in the oil-producing country. They had gone broke and had to scavenge and beg for food for months to survive.
The Department of Labor and Employment has reported that as of mid-April 2017, some 19,000 stranded and undocumented OFWs have been repatriated from the whole of Middle East since July 2016.
In a news release on April 19, the DOLE said that 19,201 OFWs were repatriated through OWWA's Relief Assistance Program (RAP).
Most of the repatriated workers were from Riyadh, Jeddah, and Al Khobar, all in Saudi Arabia, the country hardest hit by the oil crisis that rocked the Middle East last year. —LBG, GMA News

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