5,970

165 distressed OFWs return from Kuwait

SOME 165 undocumented overseas Filipino workers in Kuwait returned home on Saturday, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

The DFA said the latest batch of OFWs  brought to 3,930 the total number of Filipinos flown home by the Duterte administration.

The government’s repatriation program began on February 11.

Undocumented Filipinos still in Kuwait after the expiration of the government’s amnesty program on April 22 will be facing possible arrest and detention should they fail to register for repatriation in the next two days to give the Philippine Embassy time to process their exit visas.

“We appeal to our kababayans in Kuwait to heed our advice and register for repatriation as soon as possible,”  said Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs Sarah Lou Arriola, adding the 6,000 undocumented Filipinos who stay beyond the amnesty program will be arrested, detained, and deported by Kuwaiti authorities.
    
“Our overstaying kababayans in Kuwait should know that as soon as the amnesty is over, they could be arrested and jailed for immigration violations.
    
“This is why they have to take advantage of the amnesty offer so we could immediately bring them home,”  Arriola stressed.
    
Arriola said the Embassy has so far repatriated at least 3,930 of the 8,727 Filipinos, who Kuwaiti authorities said are staying in the Gulf state illegally since the amnesty and repatriation programs started on January 29.
    
She added that another 720 Filipino workers are scheduled to be repatriated in the next two weeks while several more are being processed by additional personnel that were deployed to Kuwait to assist in the repatriation program.
    
The Undersecretary said in addition to airfare, the government is also providing transportation to home provinces of those being repatriated as well as financial assistance, training and support in finding work when they return to the country.
    
Arriola explained that although the Kuwaiti amnesty offer will end on April 22, undocumented Filipinos must not wait until the last minute and must register by April 12 as it takes 10 days for the Embassy to process their exit requirements.
    
Ambassador to Kuwait Renato Villa echoed Undersecretary Arriola’s appeal as he urged undocumented Filipinos to seriously consider the amnesty offer.
    
“As soon as the extension of the amnesty program ends on April 22, we should expect Kuwaiti authorities to launch a crackdown against foreign nationals who have overstayed their visas,“ Villa said.
    
“The amnesty is the best and quickest way for our overstaying kababayans to go home and be reunited with their loved ones in the Philippines,” he added.