OFWs from Syria Fly Back to Philippines

Some 43 female overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) arrived on Wednesday at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) on board a two separate flights from Syria.

Thirty-nine of them took Philippine Airlines flight PR 731 from Bangkok, while four others were on board a Emirates flight EK 334 from Dubai.

Overseas Worker Welfare Administration (OWWA) Administrator Carmencita Dimzon said seven of the repatriates came from Homs, one of the cities worst hit by the ongoing violence, while majority from Damascus.

Dimzon said the OFWs were taken from their employers by Embassy personnel and the Rapid Response Team, usually after lengthy negotiations and payment of penalties.

The newly arrived OFWs brought to 1,206 the total number of repatriates from Syria.

The plane tickets of the first batch were paid by International Organization for Migration (IOM) while the rest were shouldered by the Philippine government. IOM has been providing assistance to migrants caught in armed conflicts, disasters, and unrest worldwide as part of its mandate.

“We are grateful that IOM is giving us a helping hand in our repatriation efforts. The organization’s resources have lent support to our government’s continuing efforts to bring distressed Filipinos in strife-torn Syria home,” Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) spokesperson Raul Hernandez said.

Alert level 4, which requires the mandatory evacuation of all Filipinos in Syria, was raised back in December 2011 amidst escalating violence between government and opposition forces.

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