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15 stranded OFWs return home

At least 15 Filipino overseas workers arrived in Manila on Saturday, the first batch of 200 workers encamped at the Philippine embassy in Riyadh since May 4 seeking repatriation to the country, a migrant advocacy group said on Sunday. Migrante regional coordinator in the Middle East John Monterona said another batch of 17 workers was expected to arrive in the next several days as the government took action to bring home the stranded Filipinos. “This is an initial victory of the stranded OFWs for taking up decisive collective action such as staging an encampment inside the Philippine embassy compound to press the Aquino government through embassy and labor officials in Riyadh. They have been requesting assistance since last year,” Monterona said. About 200 Filipinos pitched camp inside the embassy compound to seek repatriation after the Saudi government announced a crackdown against illegal immigrants and undocumented workers. The crackdown will start on July 6 after a three-month grace period offered to foreigners to legalize their stay or seek repatriation. Many Filipinos chose to return home and sought the assistance of the Philippine government. Monterona said deportation centers have been set up in Jeddah to verify the status of Filipinos seeking repatriation and more were expected to fly home in the coming days. “We are also expecting 17 stranded OFWs in Riyadh to be home soon, but we don’t have their flight details yet,” he said. Monterona said 115 Filipino women have been stranded in Amman, Jordan and were asking government support for immediate repatriation because of their dismal condition in the country. “”Our free, swift, mass repatriation campaign will continue until the last batch of stranded OFWs will be sent home,” Monterona said.
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