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Trapped OFWs in Saudi seek amnesty

A group of undocumented overseas Filipino workers has urged the Aquino administration to help them  return home and obtain  amnesty  from the oil-rich Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

“The OFW Undocumented for Legalization and Amnesty was formed with an aim of uniting all undocumented OFWs in Saudi Arabia to appeal to the host government to grant an amnesty and thus will give undocumented a chance to correct their status,” said Nely Natividad, OFWULA vice chairperson.

Natividad, in a statement, said at least 60 undocumented OFWs issued an appeal to the host government for their legalization and repatriation through amnesty.

While another 65 stranded male OFWs staying at the so-called ‘Tent City’ in Exit 8, Riyadh, have pleaded for repatriation as they “wished to be home with their families during the Christmas season.”

“Many OFWs were forced to run away from their employers due to labor issues, abuses and maltreatment and upon expiry of their residence visa they became undocumented,” the statement added.

The group disclosed there were 188 undocumented OFWs in its list since its formation in July 2015, adding its number is growing.

“Join and help us in our appeal…undocumented OFWs need the assistance of Philippine officials in Saudi Arabia,” said Natividad, adding they have sought help of another Filipino migrants rights group Migrante International for their letter appeal to the Department of Foreign Affairs.

They are also asking Pres. Benigno Aquino III through the DFA and Department of Labor and Employment to “arrange a high level talk with its counterpart host government and explore the granting of amnesty and other means to correct the status of undocumented OFWs.”

Allan Moriel, spokesperson of the stranded male OFWs at the “Tent City”, renewed their call for their “swift and free” mass repatriation.

OFWULA however believed that the host government “will grant an amnesty in due time.”

“It was on July 2013 that a three-month amnesty was granted by King Abdulla whose government wanted to get rid of all illegal expatriate workers in the Kingdom.

“The said amnesty was extended until November 2013 in which an estimated 400,000 illegal expatriate workers were repatriated and some were able to correct their status,” OFWULA statement read.

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