The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) praised the efforts of the Philippine government in addressing COVID19-related socio-economic challenges of overseas Filipinos (OFs), 600,000 of which are in the UAE.
IOM-Philippines Chief of Mission Kristin Dadey has also suggested that Manila continually work on and frame reintegration policies and strategies for the overflow of returning Filipinos.
She claimed that the pandemic would lead to the “devastating decline” of international remittances at 13 per cent in East Asia and about 20 to 30 percent in the Philippines according to its National Economic Development Authority.
Dadey had earlier quoted UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres as describing the pandemic global economic spiral as “worse than the Great Depression.”
Dadey expressed her views via the “COVID19 as a Mobility Crisis: Repatriation of Migrants from the Gulf States” webinar on Friday (10 a.m. in the UAE/2 p.m. in the Philippines), co-organised by the United Nations Institute for Training & Research (UNITAR) and the UP (University of the Philippines)-CIFAL, in partnership with Rights Corridor, an online news portal and policy research entity, and IOM.
UP-CIFAL espouses the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which is about the inclusive economic growth, poverty reduction and equal rights for all men and women migrants. The centre was established in 2016 as a cooperation agreement between UP and UNITAR. Dadey said due acknowledgement must be given to the Philippine government which had, considered among others, the US$200.00 each allocation to displaced OFs.
The initiative has been doubted, frowned upon and lambasted by some Filipinos in the UAE as the release of this one-time financial assistance has become slow and unpredictable.
Dadey lauded how Manila’s Department of Foreign Affairs-Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs (DFA-OUMWA) has been handling and managing the exodus of millions of OFs from all parts of the globe.
Meanwhile, Rights Corridor managing director Froilan Malit Jr. passionately rebutted the report and claim of DFA-Migrant Workers Affairs Undersecretary Sarah Lou Arriola regarding the ardent desire of pandemic-impacted OFs to return home.
According to Malit, who is also an associate at the Gulf Labour Markets and Migration (GLMM) and a fellow at UP-CIFAL, he had personally interviewed 1,000 OFs in the region who prefer to stay put and hold on as they considered their possible joblessness, debts and other money matters hanging above their head, family and kin responsibilities, and health insurance, should they return to their country.
On other topic, Arriola believes that post-COVID19 bilateral agreements on labour should stipulate and include measures ensuring the health and wellness security of OFs.
Backing Arroila’s proposal, Dadey stressed that while COVID19 has “curtailed” migration and mobility, governments alongside other stakeholders must generate all the support they could offer to all the vulnerable including both overseas and domestic/local migrants on public health risks, possible hazards and their safety.
Arriola brought to the table the latest number of OFs from seven Middle East states expected to fly back to the Philippines by June.
She said repatriations are dependent on the balancing act of the Civil Aviation Authority in the Philippines among the scheduling of passenger inbound flights, the de-clogging of quarantine facilities and the volume of inbound passengers. She announced that Clark International Airport in Pampanga Province, Central Luzon would begin receiving chartered flights for returning OFs “next week.”
About 6,457 Filipino migrant workers are expected to return to Manila – 148 sea-based personnel currently docked in the UAE and 6,309 land-based. The land-based workers include 526 in the UAE; 16, Iraq; 229, Lebanon; 2,932, Saudi Arabia; 2,107, Kuwait; 208, Bahrain; and 27, Iran.
Arriola said Philippine missions have been besieged with numerous requests as OFs believe it is best for them to go home and be with their families. (Source: Gulf Today)