Stranded Filipino seafarers in UAE return home


By Staff Report

About 415 Filipino seafarers who have been stranded in the United Arab Emirates ports due to COVID-19 global crisis, were finally repatriated in two batches onboard chartered flights arranged by their employers through local manning agencies.

The second and last batch of 208 left early morning of Sunday, April 12 from Dubai International Airport, onboard special Emirates flight, EK334, bound for Manila.

The first batch comprising 207 crewmembers have already arrived in Manila on Saturday, April 11.

According to Philippine Consul General Paul Raymund Cortes, all 415 seafarers were not residents of the UAE. They are employed by international cruise ships – MV Norwegian Jade, SS Nautica, and SS Voyager, which docked at Port Zayed in Abu Dhabi and Port Rashid in Dubai, six weeks ago.

Cortes said, the repatriation expenses for the crewmembers who remain employed, have been shouldered by the Norwegian Cruise Lines Holdings, Ltd, which owns and operates MV Norwegian Jade, SS Nautica, and SS Voyager.

All crewmembers will also receive one-time financial assistance amounting to US$200 each from the Philippine government through its DOLE-AKAP (Department of Labor and Employment-Abot Kamay ang Pagtulong) Program.

DOLE-AKAP financial aid is given to overseas workers, both land-based and sea-based, who have been displaced by a lockdown in a foreign country.

“This shows the cooperation between the government and the private sector in the promotion and protection of the welfare of our Overseas Filipinos. In a crisis such as the current, this manifests the desire of [Philippine] society to ensure that our migrants are assured of the government’s support at all times,” added Cortes.

The repatriation, oversaw by heads of Philippine missions in the UAE, Ambassador Hjayceelyn Quintana and Consul General Cortes, has been coordinated with UAE authorities who allowed them to disembark in the UAE ports.

Amb. Quintana, in the Philippine Embassy in Abu Dhabi official Facebook page, expressed appreciation to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Abu Dhabi Police, Emirates Airlines, Dubai Police, and National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority (NCEMA) Dubai Office for the assistance they extended to facilitate the repatriation flights despite the current movement and travel restrictions.

The United Arab Emirates, where infected cases have climbed up to 3,736 as of April 12, has extended its de facto overnight curfew indefinitely to disinfect public areas by spraying streets, parks and public transport facilities.

The government of Dubai has imposed a two-week lockdown on the night of April 04 in an attempt to contain the spread of the coronavirus. (ham/RightsCorridor)