Abu Dhabi Airport Terminal 2 closed
Abu Dhabi Airport . For illustrative purpose only. Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: The Philippine Embassy is working on the repatriation of Filipino crew members currently stranded in their respective ships docked in Abu Dhabi and other ports in the UAE, a top Filipino diplomat told Gulf News on Friday.

This comes after authorities announced the opening of temporary flights to evacuate people to their home countries from the UAE. However, the decision to suspend passenger and transit flights to and from the UAE – as a preventive measure to curb the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) – is still in effect.

Residents and visitors who wish to return to their country were told to coordinate with their respective embassies.

Speaking to Gulf News, Marford Angeles, Consul-General and Deputy Head of Mission at the Philippine Embassy, said: “On the recent announcement that UAE authorities shall allow temporary flights for foreign nationals wishing to leave the UAE upon coordination with embassies, the Philippine Embassy wishes to clarify that this applies to nationals who got stranded in UAE after all flights were suspended.

“The Embassy is already working on the repatriation of Filipino crew members currently stranded in their respective ships docked in the UAE. We are coordinating with UAE authorities for them to be allowed to disembark and take chartered flights being arranged for them by their employers through local manning agencies,” he added.

The Filipino diplomat also clarified, as per POLO-OWWA (Philippine Overseas Labor Office - Overseas Workers Welfare Administration), “employers are responsible for their employees’ repatriation, based on their contract.”

Angeles added the Philippine Embassy in Abu Dhabi is closely coordinating with the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs on cases of stranded Filipino nationals. “These cases are subject to compliance with both Philippine and UAE laws and regulations, including a mandatory 14-day quarantine period upon arrival in the Philippines being coordinated with the Philippine Department of Health and OWWA,” he underlined.

Angeles also clarified the Embassy’s programme of repatriating those with visa problems and immigration offences and victims illegal recruitment is still on hold due to the suspension of exit pass processing and suspension of UAE flights.

“This programme is also subject to availability of funds. Those who need help with their exit pass processing may call +971508584968 or +971508963089, or email atn.abudhabi@gmail.com for proper advice,” he added.

Meanwhile, Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways has already announced resumption of its flight to Manila starting from April 5. There is no announcement yet from Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific and Emirates regarding their flight resumptions to the Philippines.