Manila: More than one thousand overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) have decided to leave Syria and take advantage of the mandatory evacuation programme implemented by the Philippine government which began last year, a senior official said.
The Philippine embassy in Damascus has started processing the papers of some 1,300 OFWs who wanted to return home. This will raise to a total of 3,116 OFWs who would have left Syria, said a source at department of foreign affairs who requested for anonymity.
About 130 OFWs have already gone to the Philippine labour office near the Philippine embassy, to prepare to return to the Philippines, said Raul Hernandez, spokesman of Manila’s foreign affairs office.
Some 39 OFWs arrived from Syria at Pasay City’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) last Sunday. Ten of them were formerly based in Damascus, the others in Tartous, Latakia, and Homs, a foreign affairs statement said.
Two other OFWs returned home from Syria last Saturday.
Arrivals of OFWs from Syria during the week-end raised to 1,816 the total number of OFWs who were repatriated from the politically-unstable country since December last year, when the Philippine government has raised to Alert Level 4 its assessment of the political crisis in Syria.
The Philippine government has been extending repatriation assistance to all OFWs in Syria. It is an ongoing programme, said Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario.
About nine million OFWs are based worldwide, majority of them in Middle East countries.
Documented OFWs have been sending $20 billion (Dh73.44) to their relatives back home every year.