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OFWs From Libya Return Home in Batches
OFWs from war-torn Libya will return home within the next few days in separate flights, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) said.
The repatriates availed of the government’s Mandatory Repatriation Program as the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) raised alert level 4 due to heightened tension in the said country. The government shouldered the airfares of the displaced OFWs.
Labor Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz immediately instructed OWWA Administrator Rebecca J. Calzado to extend assistance to the repatriates through the ‘Assist WELL’ (Welfare, Employment, Livelihood and Legal Assistance) Program of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).
Assist WELL program begins with airport assistance, temporary shelter/accommodation at OWWA Hostel, transport assistance to residence of returnees, emergency medical assistance, and stress debriefing.
It also includes livelihood packages such as the Balik-Pinay, Balik-Hanapbuhay and the Balik-Pinas, Balik-hanapbuhay programs.
The OWWA Repatriation Team will be at the airport to extend necessary assistance to the returnees, including Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. They will facilitate the OFWs’ documents in the Immigration and Customs areas, ensure OFWs’ temporary shelter at the OWWA Halfway Home to those who are from the provinces, and will brief the migrant workers on the government’s Reintegration Program for OFWs, specifically the “Balik-Pinay, Balik-Hanapbuhay” Program.
As of July 31, a total of 620 OFWs were extended assistance by the OWWA Repatriation Team. The figures represent the actual returnees who were given Airport and other assistance by the Agency upon arrival at the NAIA.
The Composite Team of the DFA, DOLE, OWWA, and POEA expect the list of OFWs to surge as OFWs continue to inquire at the Philippine Embassy in Libya to flee the war-torn state. About 13,000 OFWs are working in Libya mostly in the oil industry, medical field, construction as well as service industry.
Meanwhile, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz authorized the travel of a 2-man advance team to Libya comprised of Labor Attache Nasser Mustafa and Welfare Officer Eduardo Mendoza Jr. They augmented the DFA Team in monitoring the situation and continue to assist the OFWs there. Monitoring of the condition/situation of OFWs in countries where there are conflicts is being done by the government on a regular basis to safeguard the workers’ welfare and well-being.
In 2011, OWWA extended assistance to more than 10,000 OFWs during mass repatriation in Libya and 300 in Madagascar. Around 5,000 OFWs in Syria were assisted in 2012-2013.