74 Libya OFWs return home

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Monday, June 23, 2014

SEVENTY-FOUR overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from crisis-torn Libya were set to return home Monday in two batches amid the ongoing repatriation efforts of the Philippine government.

In a statement, newly installed Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) head Rebecca Calzado said that two batches of OFWs from Libya were expected to arrive Monday at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

The official said the first group of 67 OFWs was to arrive via Emirates Airways flight EK332 at 4:35 p.m. while the other batch of seven repatriates will return on board Emirates Airways flight 334 at 10:30 p.m.

"About 13,000 OFWs are working in Libya mostly in the oil industry, medical field, construction as well as service industry. More are expected to come within the next few days," said Calzado.

A total of 242 OFWs from Libya have already returned from the tension-filled state since the voluntary repatriation was implemented, said OWWA.

In a related development, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz issued a directive for OWWA to work on providing OFWs looking to be repatriated from Libya and Iraq to have airline tickets within 48 hours.

"In carrying out the mission of bringing home fast, safe, and sound our OFWs from Libya and Iraq, they should work with licensed recruitment agencies that deployed OFWs in those countries for the issuance of airline tickets to the OFWs within 48 hours," said Baldoz.

"We should not spare anything for the welfare and protection of OFWs, particularly those who are in distress," she further said.

Also, Calzado has been directed to ensure that the OWWA Operations Center will be operating 24/7 (24 hours a day, seven days a week).

"We should also beef up our personnel at the airports to ensure that returning OFWs are duly provided arrival assistance and those in need of stress debriefing or medical attention are attended to," said Baldoz.

In Libya, the Crisis Alert Level 3 has been raised since late May due to the continuing violence involving rival political parties and their respective supporters prompting the implementation of voluntary repatriation.

On the other hand, Crisis Alert Level 4, which calls for mandatory repatriation, was raised last week in Iraq as militants continue to march towards the capital city of Baghdad. (HDT/Sunnex)

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