OWWA braces for arrival of repatriated OFWs from Iraq

- The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) on Wednesday said it is ready to provide assistance to returning Filipino workers affected by the continuing unrest in Iraq.

In a statement, OWWA administrator Hans Leo Cacdac has instructed the agency's senior officials to ensure that overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from Iraq are accorded with utmost attention in providing them post-repatriation assistance.

Our kababayans returning from Iraq already experienced the worst before they reach the country. Let us make them feel that they are already home, Cacdac said.

Cacdac is headed to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait following an order from Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III to assist OFWs who would avail of repatriation due to tensions in the Middle East.

OWWA's post-repatriation assistance includes airport assistance, provision for temporary shelter, stress debriefing, counseling, medical assistance, legal assistance, and provision of transportation allowance.

Upon arrival at the airport, repatriated OFWs are assisted in processing their documents at the Immigration counter, administered first aid/initial medical evaluation if needed, and retrieval of their luggage.

Repatriated OFWs are also provided with temporary board and lodging and if needed, they are processed for stress debriefing, psychological counseling, and legal assistance.

Transportation services are also provided to physically/mentally ill or distressed returning OFWs to other pre-identified destination points such as hospitals, airports, seaports, bus stations or to their places of residence, if necessary.

These post-repatriation interventions are provided to our repatriated kababayans for their fast recovery and reintegration, Cacdac said.

Aside from post-repatriation assistance, each returning OFW from Iraq shall receive cash assistance of PHP20,000 for active OWWA members and PHP10,000 for non-active OWWA members.

In an advisory, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, chair of the inter-agency committee on the repatriation of Filipinos in the Middle East, said the 13 OFWs from Iraq -- nine from Baghdad and four from Erbil -- left Doha, Qatar at 4:25 a.m. (local time) and will arrive in Manila Wednesday afternoon.

They were sent off at the airport by Philippine Ambassador to Qatar Alan Timbayan, DENR Secretary and Special Envoy to the Middle East Roy Cimatu, and Philippine Labor Attache David Dicang.

Lorenzana added that the country's repatriation team in Doha continues to monitor and assess the security situation in the Middle East and that the processing of OFW repatriation is still in full swing.

Source: Philippines News Agency